Are you worried that your child is getting distracted by social media? Read on to learn how to consciously use it for your child’s betterment.
The positive impact of social media on different age groups:
Social media can positively influence a child’s life when used for the right purpose.
- Better Lifestyle: According to research on the brain study development of 9 and 10-year-olds, children of this age who had access to social media were seen to have increased physical activity, decreased family conflict and lesser sleep problems. It can help young teens to make friends across the globe and share their interests with like-minded people.
- Develop new habits: Children can develop new habits through social media. For instance, by restricting screen usage within a stipulated time, children can learn self-control and discipline. Sometimes children can learn the developing social etiquette appropriate to their passion and career choices. With various artists sharing their work, it does not just act as inspiration but provides a platform for finetuning skills (research, collaboration, active listening, creative output etc.) even during leisure hours. One also develops new interests and hobbies by following social pages, joining groups, watching videos, participating in events, etc.
Negative impact on different ages and ways to overcome them:
While social media has many positives, children must also be prepared to face and overcome its negative sides. Social media has become an environment where bullies thrive. According to the statistical data by Enough is Enough, an organisation dedicated to making the internet safer for families, one in three people is a victim of online bullying. Read more to learn a few measures both parents and students can take to remain on the productive side of social media usage.
- Reporting bullies: Children must be taught to be conscious of online trollers’ and not take their words to heart. And how they should report such accounts associated with bullying or impersonation.
- Protecting privacy: Other dangers on the internet include invasion of privacy. Children may need to be made aware of ways to protect their privacy on the internet. We could teach them ways to use social media safely. For instance, children could learn to use two-step authentication for login. They should choose an alphanumeric password and change it often to minimise the risk of hacking. Before we introduce them to social networks, we should discuss the type of content they are allowed to share in public and the use of privacy settings for sharing content with a restricted group. We must discuss the consequences and effects of oversharing, cyberbullying, using hate speech, etc.
- Restricting social media access: Parents and guardians should make it their duty to monitor their children’s social media use, as excess time spent using the internet could harm their state of being(physically and psychologically). We should have transparent discussions around their online experiences to understand the effect of social media on their behaviour and be aware of how they’re using it to interact with strangers.
- Starting conversations regarding online bullying: Youngsters should be mindful of the impact of cyberbullying on the lives and well-being of both victims and bullies. Victims of cyberbullying need to be acknowledged, assured, and supported to cope with the trauma. Similarly, we need to humanise juvenile bullies and make them understand how their actions can devastate their friends. In this case, counselling, peer or family support, and open communication can help preserve mental health. We must make both parties’ school teachers and parents aware of the incident to reduce the risks of offline bullying. Parents can enlist the assistance of the school to provide emotional support and guidance to their children in this regard.
- Online Gaming – Do’s and Don’ts: When it comes to online gaming, a parent or guardian’s first step towards safety is to allow the child to purchase and use paid games with parental consent. Remember to monitor the time and usage of various gaming apps by children. The time they spend online gaming should be separate from the time they spend on homework, offline playtime and family time.
- How to handle warning signs: Sometimes, children may not acknowledge the negative impacts of social media on their well-being. Because of guilt or embarrassment, some are unlikely to share their negative experiences. Therefore, we must watch for behavioural changes like disinterest in studies, distance from friends, gloominess, insomnia, hesitation, etc. They could be warning signs of social abuse. As caregivers, we must build trust and transparency with children right from the beginning. It allows them to open up and talk about their problems.
Role of schools in spreading awareness
It is not a crime to use Social Media; it is necessary to understand that it has both positive and negative impacts on children. It is part and parcel of this generation, and one must use it best. Online classes came to them as a boon during the COVID pandemic. Students had the opportunity to learn irrespective of where they lived. Not just online courses but children took exams, learnt efficient ways of staying organised by creating online documents and explored various other aspects of online learning. During the pandemic, schools played a crucial role in reassuring the parents’ confidence regarding their children’s academic progress; they also ensured to educate safe and right internet usage.
While social media has become a daily part of people’s lives, parents must take note of various factors regarding children. They should monitor their children’s social media usage and teach them the importance of effectively using it. Make them aware of the consequences and harmful effects of cyberbullying.
Schools play a crucial role in generating awareness about cyber threats such as bullying, and phishing, along with safe use of the internet and online etiquette. Ekya Schools, one of the best schools in Bangalore conducts workshops, interactive activities, classroom discussions, etc., to make students aware of the current issues and to ensure their mental well-being & safety, especially in the virtual world. Raising awareness and mentoring students can help them conduct themselves in the best possible way and judiciously use technology to grow. Click to read our initiatives on student well-being.