Social Media for Kids: Dangerous or Not?
A recent study from CNN and Parenting.com reveals that social media, texting, and online communities have become an important part of children's lives. Among popular sites that teens visit are Facebook and Twitter-- areas where children can access unlimited information and where trends such as cyberbullying have been on the rise. The report found that young adolescents spend more time socializing via online communities than in real life. Technically, kids under the age of 13 are not allowed to create Facebook pages; however, one-third of surveyed parents reported that they allow their kids to access Facebook anyway. More than half of teens visit social media sites more than once a day, and 75 percent have cell phones.
These forms of communication are creating new territories for parents to navigate-- and it's not a job that a net nanny can fulfill completely. Even still, new forms online and cell phone communication are continuously evolving, and it's sometimes difficult to understand the effect of social media on children-- adults haven't grown up with it.
According to CNN and Parenting.com, the online world is one that can be quite "intense"-- especially given the amount of time that adolescents are spending on social media sites. Teens to spend a lot of time on Facebook are at risk of developing a form of depression from being isolated from parents while struggling to find a peer community. Depression can result from acts such as defriending, gossip, and of course -- cyberbullying. It is recommended that parents contact a pediatrician if their children start showing signs of depression.
In any case, CNN reports that we should also focus upon the positive influences of social media in kids' lives. Online communities, for instance, provide support networks for kids who may be considered "outsiders" at school. Kids can find other like-minded kids-- writers, artists, musicians-- to share talents, provide emotional support, and talk with one another. For kids who are "outsiders," these types of social networks are invaluable.
In this new digital age, parents should make an effort to understand how their kids are using the social media space. It's important to engage in open communication with kids to understand how online communities affect their social circles. We may not be able to outpace new technology, but it is important to grow with a resource that has become such an integral part of kids' lives. For kids especially, social media is a double-edged sword that parents need to keep in check..