The effects of social media on children and what parents can do to help
In its recent study, virtual private network and cybersecurity company ExpressVPN revealed some shocking concerns linked to children being active on social media platforms. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with social media platforms, the survey has shown that children’s perils on these services are different from their adult counterparts. In particular, issues surrounding online predators and grooming are just some concerns adults have and one that children experience more than others.
Beyond that, there are some other effects that social media might have on kids.
For example, its impact on their mental health. Social media can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness, especially when children compare themselves to others on these platforms. It can also lead to cyberbullying when someone is bullied, harassed, or threatened online. Cyberbullying can have serious consequences, resulting in low self-esteem, social isolation, and suicide.
Social media can also have an impact on children’s physical health. Children who spend too much time on social media may be more likely to experience sleep problems, obesity, and other health issues related to sedentary behavior. Additionally, social media can lead to a lack of exercise, as children may spend more time sitting and scrolling through their feeds instead of engaging in physical activity.
Another effect of social media on children is the impact on their social skills. Social media can be a double-edged sword when it comes to socialization. While it allows children to connect with others and make new friends, it can also lead to a lack of face-to-face communication skills. Children may become more comfortable with online interactions rather than in-person conversations, leading to a decline in their ability to communicate effectively.
Moreover, social media can expose children to inappropriate content, such as violence, pornography, and hate speech. Children may stumble upon this content accidentally or be exposed to it by others on social media. This exposure can harm their psychological and emotional development and have long-term effects.
Lastly, social media can impact children’s academic performance. Children who spend too much time on social media may experience a decline in their grades, as they may not have enough time to complete their homework or study. They may also become distracted by notifications and messages, leading to a lack of focus and attention in class.
Parents need to set clear boundaries and guidelines for children’s social media use to counter this. Parents should discuss with their children the potential risks and dangers of social media, such as cyberbullying and exposure to inappropriate content. Establish rules around how much time children can spend on social media, what content they can engage with, and who they can communicate with online. Parents should monitor their children’s social media use regularly. This includes reviewing their child’s social media profiles, friends, and messages.
Lastly, children should be taught to protect their privacy online. This includes not sharing personal information such as their full name, address, phone number, or school. Parents can help by setting up privacy settings on their child’s social media accounts and teaching them to recognize potential dangers online.