Social media did not exist when I was growing up. And life wasn’t difficult without this technological boom either. With easy access to Smartphones and the Internet today, kids of the current generation have become a lot smarter and outspoken but also aggressive and self-centered at the same time.
Why do kids use social media?
The primary reason for kids to use social media is to stay connected with their friends (mainly the ones they do not see every day). Social media’s role as a stress-buster is the second reason for its humongous popularity with kids. Mostly on a subconscious level, kids also use social platforms to get the attention they desire. This generation seeks quick action and social channels are perfect tools to make their voices heard.
However, social media is not just for fun. As people all across the globe use social channels to share their views and experiences, school authorities have started encouraging students to get acquainted and leverage the power of social media platforms. This can add an ‘out-of-the-textbook’ angle to their allotted classroom projects, and help them introduce things beyond the stereotypical formulas.
Let us take Twitter for example. When I searched with the phrase “pyramid Egypt” on Twitter, the screenshot below shows the top 2 results that I found. These two tweets are not only extremely insightful and re-tweetable, but are also highly useful for students working on a pyramid or Egypt-based assignment.
Social media for Kids – Risks & Benefits
A healthy upbringing of a child is a major issue for parents in the digital age, and the influence of social media on kids is one of their primary concerns. Parents often wonder about the extent to which they should allow their kids to mingle with social channels and apps. And here are some reasons that testify the allegations:
- Kids learn from Parents: If you are spending too much time on Instagram and WhatsApp in front of your kids, then they are sure to take a cue from you. And when they will get their hands on a Smartphone or a laptop, they will do the exact same things they have seen you doing.
- Highly Addictive: Social media offers new things every time. Kids check their profiles numerous times a day in hopes of finding new updates from friends. However, social addiction can easily result in poor grades in the classroom and the reduced amount of physical activity may induce lethargy and obesity.
- Sources of Emotional Scarring: Hundreds of survey reports have already shown that too much social media can make kids feel depressed and instigate self-harming mentality. There are also the potent risks of cyber bullying and ‘sexting’.
It will be wrong to cast a negative light on social media when it comes to kids. There is something good with the bad too. Contrary to popular belief, social media is not always detrimental to a kid’s mental development. If monitored properly, in fact, online social activities can stir up phenomenal improvements in the growing mind of a child. Here are some points to show the possibilities:
- Builds up Confidence: A research conducted by Common Sense Media on kids aged between 13 and 17 (as 13 is the minimum age requirement for having a social account) had revealed that most kids feel social media makes them less shy and more confident.
- Increased Awareness: It is a fact that kids do not enjoy news channels. However, they do take a special liking to find out and explore the trending topics on Facebook and Twitter. Along with this habit, interesting and thought-provoking shares from friends can also increase a kid’s general awareness.
- Sharp and Tech-savvy: Kids pick things up and learn faster in comparison to grownups. Early introduction to social media can help them know their ways with modern gadgets. And with proper supervision and guidance, kids can actually become a lot brighter, outspoken and communicative.
Few words for the Parents
As the stats are laid in front, it becomes a lot clearer how kids understand and use social media. And truth be told, the results are not very positive and optimistic. Kids seem desperate when it comes to self-promotion on social channels, and this is garnering some unwanted curiosity as well.
If parents become strict and tell “No!” to every social platform, then it can turn their kids stubborn and make them do the exact opposites. Parents need to make their kids sit down, help them understand the downside of social media (in the simplest terms, of course), and exercise the following rules:
- They should not introduce digital media inside their kids’ bedrooms until a certain age,
- They should set a daily time limit to how long their kids can use social channels,
- They should keep a tab on the information shared by their kids on social platforms, and
- They should not allow their kids to use a social website or app that they have not heard or know little about.
Social Media – Future Prospects for Kids
I have said it once and I will say it again!
Social media, if used with proper precautions, can yield get results and benefit a child in his or her growing years. Leading social platforms are already trying to tighten the noose around mischief-makers. And with more social websites and apps coming into the picture every year, kids of the present generation (and the future generation as well) will have many useful and valuable things to learn from their online social activities.
Regulate and adjust your kid’s social media use in the right ways, and everything else will fall into place.