This article describes the pros and cons of social media use in children and what parents can do in this situation.
Children and young people born after the 1990s are growing up with social media as an integral part of their lives. People born just a generation ago did not have to face this onslaught from social media. Doctors regularly meet parents in clinical practice who are getting frustrated by the undue influence of social media on their children. Many parents are bewildered by this development and feel that their parenting role and authority are somehow undermined. Parents frequently say that their children spend more time on social media rather than interacting with the family.
We have to accept that social media sites have become an inseparable part of our lives in the last decade or two. Like handling any delicate situation, we have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the use of social media. Putting a blanket ban on social media is neither feasible nor advisable. The key is to help young people to use it judiciously, harness the positive benefits, and prevent potentially adverse outcomes.
Pros of Social Media:
It helps people stay connected.
Networking with like-minded people, collaborating, and sharing information.
Develop knowledge and provide exposure to various unimaginable topics from 10 to 20 years.
Young people get access to the latest developments and updates in their chosen fields. Previously, the newest knowledge was predominantly acquired through books and journals in libraries. In recent years, relevant social media feeds have helped to disseminate the latest findings in different fields.
Creates awareness about various social problems and helps young people to empower themselves and participate in multiple campaigns. It can be a powerful tool for bringing in positive changes.
Young adults can learn more about educational and career opportunities that may be relevant to their aspirations. These media platforms are valuable communication tools that have expanded their reach worldwide.
Social media can provide entertainment and relaxation when used judiciously.
It has given employment opportunities to young people as an influencer or helps to bring their creative side up and gives an open, easy platform to showcase their talents.
Cons of Social Media:
Indiscriminate use of social media leads to increased exposure to screen time and poor sleep, which can have an adverse impact on children’s normal development. Further, time spent on social media can limit the time available for educational activities. A recent study has been published in which the researchers found that social media may harm mental health in teenagers, especially girls, due to increased exposure to cyberbullying, decreased sleep, and physical activities.
Frequent social media use is said to be associated with greater psychological distress among users, particularly girls.
Exchange of inappropriate and explicit messages and images by vulnerable teenagers. Things like sexting are becoming a menace in some schools, particularly in Western countries.
Risk of cyberstalking, and online grooming, especially by older adults posing as young people.
Generally, children and young people are more adept at using these platforms than their parents, which has skewed the traditional power balance away from parents. In many families, parents are less tech-savvy and depend on children to navigate social media sites, so they may find it challenging to enforce parental rules and boundaries in limiting social media use.
Promote safe use of social media. Most of these social media platforms have minimum age restrictions, which is helpful to prevent underage children from accessing these platforms before they are developmentally ready to handle social media accounts. Nearly all of these services require users to be at least 13 years old, and some can sign up with their parent's permission.
Despite age limits, nowadays, hearing stories about social media being used by many younger children has become common. So adequate monitoring and supervision of children's online activity is warranted.
Parents have to invest time to keep themselves updated on social media so that they are in a position to guide their children.
Limit the number of screens or gadgets available at home.
Place computers or laptops in common areas to minimize access.
Use filters to guard against inappropriate content.
Parents can stay connected as ‘friends’ to keep an eye on their activities but should not be intrusive.
Help young people to develop a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Agree on a plan to limit the screen time (for example, 30 minutes during school days, you can be more flexible and accommodative during weekends and holidays).
Promote outdoor activities like walking, running, swimming, playing team sports, etc.
Support young people to maintain a good sleep routine.
If parents are able to help their children to use social media judiciously and prevent addictive behavior, it will provide a huge boost to lead their lives productively.
Social media is a good thing, but awareness of social media's pros and cons is very important. The youth in this generation sometimes takes a wrong turn and get into trouble. Calling social media a double-edged sword is correct, as it has become an integral part of society. Research has shown that around 27% of young people or children face mental health problems because of the excessive use of social media. However, it is undeniable that social media has given so much good to society by providing easy access to information, entertainment, communication, and even employment. It is all about awareness and the time duration spent on social media.
Using social media effectively is the new generation's and their parent's main concern. An individual should control and spend an adequate amount of time on social media; if it is not possible, they should seek help.
Last reviewed at:
06 Oct 2022 - 4 min read
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