Many parents worry about how exposure to technology might affect their child development due to several pieces of evidence regarding the link between mental ill-health in children and their use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
I recently read an article about depression to a 16-year-old boy due to social media by General practitioner Rangan Chatterjee. In the article, Dr. Chatterjee suggests that boy to avoid social media instead of using anti-depressants. A few months later the boy reported a significant improvement in his wellbeing.
We know our preschoolers are picking up new social platforms for showing their cognitive skills. But adolescence is an equally important period of active development, and too few of parents are paying attention to how the teenagers are using technology. In much more intense and intimate than a 2-year-old playing with dad’s iPhone is affecting them.
In fact, several experts worry that the social media and text messages that have become so integral to teenage life are lowering self-esteem and promoting anxiety.
Young people usually report that there might be a good reason to worry. A survey conducted by Great Britain’s Royal Society for Public Health asked 13-24 year olds in Great Britain how social media platforms impacted their well-being and health.
The survey results found that social media including Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all led to increased feelings of depression, poor body image, anxiety, and loneliness.
Social networking sites (SNSs) have become a part of our modern culture, which may also affect mental health. These problems are often complex and wide-ranging from unnecessary use of gaming or social media sites as well as using these social media for internet bullying or cyber-bullying.
Impact of Social Media Use in Childhood and Adolescence:
The internet is a ubiquitous medium for information, business, and entertainment, but has had the most profound impact as a means of interpersonal communication. Use of social networking sites grew exponentially after the launch of Facebook and MySpace in 2004.
Within a few years, there are billions of Facebook users aged between 13–16.
Since the introduction of web-enabled smartphones that surpassed mobile phone sales in 2013, instant messaging sites such as Snapchat and WhatsApp have become standard communication tools. In the United States, recent data shows that 93% of people between the ages of 15 and 17 have access to the mobile Internet via a phone or tablet. SOURCE
While Facebook is still very popular, Instagram and Twitter are more popular among teenagers (Statista 2016). Whether on a classic computer screen or on a mobile device, teenagers use social media at any time of day, both in rich countries and in poor countries.
What Can Parents Do To Protect Their Children?
- Watch how much time children spend online, and make sure that activities such as socializing, sports, eating, and sleeping are not compromised.
- Keep in mind that the devices should be banned during meals and taken one hour before going to bed. Do not let children carry equipment in their rooms.
- Talk to the kids regularly about what they do online, what they did that day, their friends, and the mood that influences them.
- With younger children, you have access to passwords to regularly review content.
- Keep in mind that Facebook, Twitter or Instagram are officially forbidding children under the age of 13 to keep accounts.
- Encourage children to use the Internet to create creative things: help with homework, create your own content.
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