The Effects Of Social Media On Children

By Zunammie Keren

Being protective of our children is one of many jobs we have as parents but when it comes to the monitoring and handling of our children with social media are we prepared? Many of us, as clever as we think we are using the latest technological gadgets for our work and play, having over a 1000 apps on our phones and tablets probably use only 2% of the features to stay in touch with work, family and friends. It sounds simple enough and sometimes we may even forget our phones and hopefully not panic too much if a FaceBook message is missed, you cannot get to update your Twitter feed or SnapChat or Instagram page or a call goes unanswered. For Generation Z this scenario is a real crisis.

Not being able to be part of the social media crowd makes them feel at a loss, left out, anxious even. Simple observations confirm this. Our children do not watch the news on television, they obtain their news via social media. Children no longer sit on the hallway steps holding a long conversation on the landline phone with a friend, they use Whatsapp, IMO, IM and whatever else that is available that we as parents may not even be aware of. Advancement must occur there is no denying this but like anything else a balance has to be found.

Social Media and Social Skills

Studies have revealed that the effects of social media on youth can be devastating in many ways. The Child Mind Institute in New York has recorded that social skills are being limited by social media and that low self-esteem and anxiety especially among teenagers is increasing. The ability to make friends, real live face-to-face friends is becoming challenging to many young people, the normal interaction, the reading of body language and facial expression, the picking up of vocal nuances are being lost thus creating a crutch-like state of mind when trying to communicate within a normal peer group environment.

Expectations and Health

As parents we can probably remember who the local school bully was, who was popular and who wasn’t and you avoided who you didn’t get along with. Now, in the age of social media that is a lot more difficult to do. Hiding behind a screen it is a lot easier to be a faceless bully to another person and many young people are experiencing this and even becoming one. Expectations of people becoming famous and financially successful through social media has placed pressure on the young to sometimes pretend to be someone they are not, do things they should not and try to achieve what some social media celebrities claim that they have. It is to be noted that statistics by the UK Oficce of National Statistics (ONS) has shown that girls use social media more often and are affected more negatively in regards to the perception of themselves to others when using social media

The lack of communication, good communication not just between peers but with parents and other adults can lead as stated by experts to a future problem society. A society filled with adults with self-loathing issues, loneliness, depression a warped sense of value and reality. How can we solve this issue? How about we act like the airport security and check our phones at the door when we get home. Get the whole household to put phones, tablets, laptops on flight mode when having dinner, have a real conversation for a change rather than texting each other from bedroom to kitchen. If we do not set the balanced example for our children what are we creating for the future?

Taken from the January issue of Geek Parenting, out now!

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