Every child has heard it, and will one day grow up to say it themselves, “Back in my day, we didn’t have to worry about things like that.” What am I referring to for most parents today? Social media. Parents today ask themselves questions like:
- Does my child need a cell phone?
- What will they do with it?
- What are the risks?
These are just some of the things that are considered. What is the answer? Unfortunately, we don’t fully know yet, but I’d like to share a few things that have been discovered when it comes to social media.
Social Media Addiction
There are people who believe that social media addiction is not real and that it is not a proven disease. Psychology Today defines addiction as “A condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health (Psychology Today, 2017). According to this definition almost everyone I know would have an addiction to social media. This article by Vice https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/the-secret-ways-social-media-is-built-for-addiction , explains it’s no accident that we are addicted. Social media apps are designed like slot machines to keep users hooked. When these companies draw more daily users they can charge more money for their advertising space, so it is a competition for your undivided attention.
Damage to Self Esteem
Several studies have shown that teens, particularly women, are unhappy with their appearance after using social media such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. When users post to social media, they can choose the best photo and then edit it to appear flawless. Also, you only see the “best of shots” on someone’s Instagram. Users post their vacations, dates, extravagant meals, but rarely do they post the hard work it took to get them there. This gives viewers an unrealistic comparison of their own appearances and their own lives making them feel inadequate. This article by CNN explains more, and has some tips on what parents can do http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/12/health/girls-social-media-self-image-partner/ .
Predators and Risks
Companies looking to use social media for business face risks, but so do kids looking to use it for entertainment and communication. Kids want to express themselves might not realize the future implications of their posts on social media. An inappropriate rant about a friend, teacher, or parent could cost them a future job opportunity. Kids could also be at risk of sharing identifying information about where they live, go to school, or their extra-curricular activities. If your kids have access to the internet all of the time, this means that predators can have access to them and the information that they share.
No matter what you decide there will be implications and some of them have not been discovered yet. Talk to your kids about technology, social media, privacy, and self-esteem so that they can come to you when challenges arise.
At what age do you think it’s appropriate to let kids use cell phones?
Facebook: Should Your Kids Use Social Media? Information You Need to Know. http://wp.me/p3QRy0-fiN
Twitter: Should Our Kids Be Using Social Media? http://wp.me/p3QRy0-fiN