The Internet has become the fundamental need of the current generation. Almost half of the population of the world are using the Internet on a daily basis. Moreover, the number of users on the social platform is increasing each passing day.
The youngsters are among the top people who prefer using these channels to communicate with the near and dear ones and stay tuned to the latest updates.
Social media provides a platform for younger people to communicate, express themselves, and share contents of all kinds. It has become an inseparable part of young people’s lives. As per the stats,
- 38% of the Facebook users in the last year were under 13, and more than 25% were under 10.
- 75% of teens aged 13-17 have at least one active social media profile, of which 51% of them visit social media daily.
- 40% of US parents let their children own cell phones when they are below six years old
In today’s era, Social media has given rise to the new cultural paradigm that drives technology and business while changing how people interact.
Social media brought not only major changes in behavior but also lifestyles. It has greatly affected the way children talk, dress or walk. It is a double-edged sword as a tool. Although it has many benefits, it can also influence children in unhealthy ways.
To know more about how social media has affected children’s behaviors in both (positive and negative) ways, stay tuned and read the below-mentioned information.
1) Socialization and communication
Social media allows teens to connect with their peers and family members who are physically far from them. They can also make new friends, sharing ideas and thoughts. Social media participation offer youth benefits such as it provides youngsters
- Opportunities for raising money for the charity through different online community engagement
- A platform to learn different new things on various topics through an elaborate online network of friends and acquaintances.
- A way to express creative thoughts, share their ideas, interact and learn with a geographically apart audience.
2) Enhanced learning opportunities
Social networking has changed and made the way of learning for children. It supports a more peer-to-peer-based learning method, where youngsters get motivated to learn from their peers. Social media has made youngsters easier
- To interact and give feedback to one another, which eases the process of learning.
- Also, learning from newer resources available on the web, exploring related topics online helps youngsters study.
- Provides platforms to form study group communities, where they can easily share their ideas and learning material and can access others too.
3) Boost the confidence
Social media provides a great platform for introverted kids to open up over the Internet through social media platforms that help in boosting their confidence. Social media makes it easier for them
- To find and talk to new people, as many children feel comfortable talking to new people face-to-face in person after interacting with them over social media platforms.
- It helps them communicate with people worldwide, understand other cultures, traditions, ways of teaching culture, food, music, and more.
4) Helps in maintaining the friendship
Many children get separated from their childhood friends because of their parent’s transfer process. As the parents get the transfer, children need to move to another city and make new friends, which most children find difficult.
However, children can maintain their long-term friendships with others by staying in touch with them online through social media, even when they can no longer meet each other in person.
1) Body image
Your child can get greatly influenced by social media. Most children try to copy things they see on the Internet.
If your children see unrealistic ‘thin’ or ‘muscular’ body types enough in the media they follow, it can greatly impact their mindset that thin is beautiful and start worrying about their body image and change the dieting patterns.
2) Social media addiction
One of the well-known demerits of social media is the addiction it creates. Your children may constantly check the news feed of the different social media sites, which can become an addictive habit.
Children addicted to social media often spend hours and hours each day browsing videos, photos, and other content posted online.
- This addiction greatly disrupts your child’s other activities, such as school work, academic performance, sports, and other productive routines.
- Your children end up wasting a good amount of time every day on social sites, resulting in poor grades and performance in school.
- Some children who are addicted to using social media admit checking their feeds as many as 100 times a day, sometimes even during school hours too.
- Some kids also realize that they waste much time on social media, negatively affecting their mood, building a defeatist attitude.
3) Sexting and privacy and predators
Sexual content, online fraud, and predators are the major risks of social media usage.
Children do not understand the delicate dance of privacy online. Surveys have shown that approximately 20% of youths aged 13 to 19 have sent a sexual photo to someone else.
Moreover, sexual content, offensive, unnecessary, explicit, and violent content are easily available on social sites, which may disturb your children mentally. Such content can mold your child’s mind in the wrong manner.
Excess usage of social media can affect your child’s mental health. Children who spend more than 3 hours a day surfing social sites are likely to suffer from a poor mental health problem.
It can be due to the influence of social comparisons, cyberbullying, and lack of person-to-person interactions. Some children also become anxious and moody as they see and start to compare their life with the lives of their other friends and think they are better than theirs.
5) Obesity and change in sleeping pattern
Surfing continuously on social media sites sitting in the same place for hours and hours can increase the risks of obesity.
This is because most of the children end up snacking or overeating while browsing the sites. Over usage of media can also interfere with the sleeping pattern of your child.
Children who spend more time with social media or use mobile devices to surf the Internet before bedtime is at greater risk of having sleep problems. Moreover, exposure to light (particularly blu rays) coming from screens can delay or disrupt sleep, affect eyesight, and may have poor performance at school the next day.
Social media can affect your child’s behaviors in both negative and positive ways. But when your child balances media use with other physical and creative activities, it works as a wonder for your child, providing many benefits.
For this, as parents, you also need to support and control their usage of social sites properly and introduce your child to real-life, positive role models as children are not well aware of the negative impact of social media.
Sometimes, they may end up living for perfect Instagram photos while missing out on all the fun of the event, which could be a vacation or having lunch/dinner with friends or family.
Thus, undoubtedly, social media negatively affects many aspects of children’s health, including physical health, mental health, sexual initiation, feelings and beliefs, and social isolation. However, it also has positive effects on child health. We cannot disagree with the fact that our children are becoming so smart and up-to-date with the current news because of social media.
Social media helps them develop better perspectives on various issues and makes it easy to exchange their ideas with peers, learn new things, and provide an effective platform for enhancing their skills and knowledge.
Thus, as responsible parents, we all have to find ways to optimize the priority of social media in our children’s lives and its effects on our child’s behaviors, taking advantage of their positive sides and minimizing their negative ones.
We need to adopt social media and use it as an effective tool in shaping children’s behavior rather than trying to prevent them from using it.
Guest Author –
Alecia Carroll is a wife and mother of twins. She is a parenting expert, and her parenting journey led her to write content on parenting to help other parents with their children’s digital wellbeing.