Now, let’s look at the positives social media has on children. Yes, you read correctly I did find some sources who had great things to say about the benefits social media can have. Contrary to the article I read on CNN about social media causing anxiety and depression, this article from OurPact has an opposing view, stating that with the rise of mental health disorders in teens, social media can act as a place for teens to reach out for support from their peers who can relate. They also go on to say that in most cases social media helps with social development, creating self-confidence and building stronger friendships. Literacy has increased even though it’s on a digital platform, kids are educating themselves to stay current with technology. Last but not least increased exposure to the real world, children are showing more interest in politics, real world events, volunteer experiences and the list goes on.
After reading the above-mentioned articles and a few more not listed, I wanted to conduct some research of my own. I took to social media, Facebook to be exact to a group of my peers where the one common thing we shared was that all our babies were born in February of 2013. We live all over the world though most of us are in Canada, some of us are stay at home moms and some work outside the home. All of us range in age from 22-40. It is a diverse group to the say the least. We all struggled with are our kids getting too much screen time, but sometimes as a mom, you need to put Bubble Guppies on TV to get 20 minutes of peace. Some days call for a double dose. But overall we support each other in our little Facebook group as we are all going through the dreaded threenager phase together.
My first question to the group was regarding YouTube: Is it a social media site and does it have any educational value yes or no and why? Surprisingly, they all said no to being a social media site, but yes to educational. They felt that because the children themselves were not posting videos it wasn’t considered social media. Which I found strange since the children were interacting with the videos, they may not be commenting on the videos but each time the video is watched it gets a new view. They all felt comfortable leaving their child alone with the iPad or television to watch YouTube videos that they had put on or on a dedicated playlist but were always within earshot in case something inappropriate came up.
My second question to the group was whether or not they thought social media would impact their children negatively and if they afraid of what it would be like in 10 years when our children were 13. This question didn’t get as many comments as my YouTube one and I’m not sure if it’s because no one had an answer or they were all panicking over the fact that in 10 yrs our babies were going to be teenagers. However, the few responses I did receive were mostly the same. They had concerns that it could impact them negatively but were more concerned about being an involved parent, teaching their children how to be safe when online, moderation and keeping the lines of communication open.
My conclusion on the subject is that there are risks, risks that should not be taken for granted or lightly. But the positive in my opinion far outweighs the negatives. I want my children to be well-rounded, informed, and build strong relationships and I believe that social media will help them achieve that. But I also believe in being an involved parent and parenting my children. When I allow them to have a social media account at an appropriate age which differs for all children, I will have access to their social media accounts, cell phones etc, teaching them safety when online and trusting them to make the right decisions. Social media is not a dying media and keeping children away from it is just not realistic. Social media is much more than #selfies, #cyberbullying, #digitalfootprints and well hashtags!