What Are The Positive and Negative Impacts of Social Media on Our Children
There’s no denying that social media has become a major part of both our own lives and our children’s (especially Instagram among young people). As the platforms morph and evolve into mass communication tools at scale you could be forgiven for not being up to date with the latest iteration and changes.
There are positive and negative impacts of social media on our children and in this article, we will outline what those are.
Please note, at RiiRoo we don’t advocate children under the age of 9 or 10 using social media. But, we do see the age starting to come down each month and year that goes by.
Positive Effects of Social Media on Children
If you read all of the headlines in the tabloids you would conclude that the vast majority of talk about social media is seen in a negative light. However, there are a few positive ones that may have been overlooked.
Being Competent In A Digital Age
As much as we may hate the thought of our kids spending hours on social media. There’s no denying that it is certainly the future of digital.
Not only does it allow them to communicate and partake in this new digital world. It also broadens their view and improves their social skills as they learn to engage and participate in conversations online. The likelihood of your kids using this medium in their future occupations is extremely high.
They Can Express Themselves
Believe it or not. Your kids won’t always want to speak to you if they have an issue or simply feel the need to talk. Of course, this is a generalisation and will vary from family to family and kid to kid.
The fact of the matter is, some kids feel the need to express themselves using social media. Some in a negative way and some in a positive way.
The beauty of social media is the sheer reach your message has and the ability to communicate and talk to like-minded people.
This probably won’t be that relevant for children under the age of 10, but, we there are positive for kids to use when sharing ideas during the study. There are a number of different study groups available for kids now that allow them to contribute and share ideas.
Changed The Way Kids Learn
Social media has had many effects. One of the more surprising aspects of social is the way kids learn. A side effect that isn’t talked about much is the fact that it has introduced a more peer-based learning method.
Not only do kids learn from parents and teachers, but they now have the ability to learn from their peers.
This might arguably be a lot more effective. The ability to learn, give feedback and receive feedback really does refine the learning process.
If they weren’t enthusiastic about learning before, you might just find that this could kick start their love for learning in new and interesting ways.
Gives Them The Ability To Connect
We have spoken about engaging and connecting earlier in this article, but this shouldn’t be understated.
A lot of time can be wasted and lost if kids struggle to communicate with their peers in the classroom.
With the emergence of social media and the peer to peer learning we just discussed. Giving kids a channel to communicate and connect with others online might just be the right medium and outlet they need.
They also start tuning their networking skills in the process. I think we can all agree that we will need good networking skills in the future. Not just for finding a job but also when they are eventually employed.
They May Become More Empathetic
By scrolling through their social media feed, they will undoubtedly see plenty of posts of disabled individuals accomplishing astonishing things, kids or animals that are suffering to name a few.
With all of this exposure, most kids are likely to become more empathetic as individuals. They will see that their lives aren’t actually that bad compared to the people they see in their feed.
They Build and Maintain Long Term Relationships
An overlooked positive of social media is the ability for kids to keep in contact with old friends. For example, you may have moved to another area of the country or even a completely different country. If this is the case, your kids will still have the ability to keep in touch with their friends and catch up on the latest gossip, etc.
Connecting on A Global Scale
We have already talked extensively about connecting and engaging. But, what we haven’t talked about is the sheer scale of reach kids nowadays.
Not only do they have the ability to communicate with someone in this country, but they can also communicate with kids from multiple international countries. This will help them develop a much broader perspective in life with the ability to ask questions they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to.
Negative Effect of Social Media on Kids
You would expect this list to be a lot longer than the positive list based on all of the headlines we see in the media. For some reason, as humans, we are drawn more to negative headlines than positive ones and for that reason, our point of few can be skewed in the direction of negativity.
This article will attempt to level the playing field and give you an even perspective of both sides of the coin.
Social Media Addiction
I placed this point at the top of the list because I thought it would resonate more and it’s probably the most important to most of our readers.
Any addiction is bad. But, I think we all have sleepless nights knowing that our kids could become addicted to social media. For our kids to be constantly checking their social media feeds, ignoring the world around them and feeling bad and dejected because they didn’t get many likes or engagement on their posts is a real concern.
The “likes” and “shares” engagement tool has been designed to encourage habit-forming and a form of reward system. Stimulating that part of the mind that inherently wants to have pleasure. In turn, your body starts to produce the chemical dopamine.
When you receive a social media notification, your brain sends a chemical signal (dopamine) that travels along the reward pathway that makes us feel good. It is normally associated with exercise, love, sex, gambling, and drug. However, we can add a new option on that list, “social media.”
What we aren’t totally aware of is how damaging this could be in the long run for our children. We could be stirring up one hell of a hornet's nest for the future.
Hundreds Of Hours Wasted
Kids waste hundreds of hours on social media. Whether they are just browsing, talking to their friends or playing a game. Whatever the reason is, this is time wasted. In fact, it is time they will never get back.
These early years are a discovery period for knowledge and learning. If most of their time is spent on social media without increasing their knowledge, then this could result in poor performance and bad grades.
May Affect Mental Health
Psychologists have long studied the harmful effects of social media and our mental health. Being so vulnerable at such a young age means kids are more prone to be effective than adults are.
There are some kids that check their feeds as much as 100 times a day and feel disappointed when they didn’t get the engagement they feel their post should have got. It may also surprise some parents that some of this time spent on social media is during school hours as well.
We should always be careful when talking about mental health. Unfortunately, it is a term that gets thrown around like confetti these days. But, when teens have a higher suicide rate than any other age group, we need to sit up and pay attention.
Even though this won’t affect young kids just yet, the trouble could manifest itself much earlier in their young lives.
Today’s “Generation X” and even some millennials have never known life without the internet. For them, logging every few minutes to check their feed is entirely normal. The question I suppose we should be asking ourselves is. Is it too normal?
For many years, suicide among young people was quite rare and in some cities and towns, unheard of. However, from the years 2007 to 2017, the sheer number of suicides among young people aged 10 to 24 suddenly increased 56 percent — from 6.8 deaths per 100,000 people to 10.6, the new report shows.
Suicide has become the second-most common cause of death among teenagers and young adults, overtaking homicides and outpaced only by accidents.
This is a serious problem and is only getting worse.
Detracts From Real Life
It is important for young people to have a good grasp of what is real and what is fantasy. Screen relationships with known friends are fine. But, when they have never met the person that is having a conversation with poses a problem.
It is important for kids at an early age to learn to read non-verbal cues and facial gestures. Real social interaction is so important as it helps them develop the skills needed to understand people’s emotions and moods.
Without these vital skills, kids will find it hard to communicate and be empathetic in the future.
How Can Parents Help Kids Be Smart About Social Media?
Social media is not a new phenomenon, but the extent to which it is encroaching on our lives is increasing at an alarming rate. We have to try harder than yesterday to protect our kids whilst giving them the flexibility and freedom to use it effectively.
Start With Research
There are several safeguards you can put in place to protect your child online. However, there is nothing more powerful than talking to them.
An AVG study found that a sample of 43% of 9,485 parents and guardians talk to their kids on a regular basis about their online behaviour.
Despite the steps, we have made with technology. The vast majority of parents and guardians simply aren’t talking to their kids about online safety.
Keep Computers In A Common Area
If you keep an eye on your kids when they are online, it’s a lot harder for them to be harassed or be contacted by sex offenders. So, if the computer can’t be a common area. Ensure phones and tablets aren’t in the rooms when they go to bed.
Social media time and internet time should be kept to a minimum. There should be certain times when they are allowed to log in (all under your supervision).
Know which other computers your children are using
This may seem obvious, but keeping track of digital devices is a task few look forward to. The average household has over 10 digital devices. Keeping track of them isn’t easy.
Remind Your Children, "Don't talk to strangers — or meet them"
This should be made clear from the get-go anyway. Whether a child is online or not. It is never a good idea to talk to strangers. Something that should be drilled home constantly.
Some kids might think there’s no hard talking to them online. It’s your job to ensure that they know the reason why this isn’t acceptable.
They should also never reveal personal information about themselves like name, address, telephone number, and school name.
Join Their Social Network
Allowing your kid access to social media is one thing. Understanding how social media network works is another. That’s why it is important for you to join that network and have a play yourself.
You need to understand exactly how it works and its nuances. Going one step further, you can follow them so you see exactly what they are posting. Better still, ONLY let them use your login and profile so you can better monitor it. However, try to refrain from commenting or engaging in their posts.
Join their social networking site so you can be better aware of how it works. If possible, follow them on the site so you can see their posts. However, refrain from commenting or interacting with their posts.