Approximately 80% of people born in the 2000s have at least one popular social media account. On the one hand, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Vkontakte are the ideal inventions of our time, with the help of which it is easy to always stay in touch with loved ones, quickly learn about everything that is happening in the world. But on the other hand, many parents are beginning to sound the alarm: children sit in social networks all day long. Is it worth worrying about this and is it worth restricting access to social networks for children of the 21st century?
There is no single answer to this question. Moreover, today the world is divided into two camps: defenders and opponents of social networks in the lives of children and adolescents. The first argue that the Internet allows the child to expand their social interaction, it is easier to adapt to new technologies. The latter are convinced that social networks have a bad effect on children's consciousness and can cause long-term, and sometimes even irreversible consequences.
In order to make an objective decision, you must first learn about the pros and cons of such a phenomenon as social networks, and then follow the behavior of your child. Only in this way will it become clear whether it is time to limit his desire for online communication.
The negative impact of social networks on the child
The UK Office for National Statistics believes that children who spend more than 3 hours daily on social networks are 2 times more likely to to mental health disorders than their peers, who are not as intensely immersed in the virtual world.
Another study by the British Psychological Society shows that the need to constantly respond to other people's activity on social networks (like posts, leave comments and reply to them) can also negatively affect the mental health of children.
Researchers from the University of Michigan concluded that young people who spend a lot of time on Facebook have a distorted assessment of the perception of their own fulfillment. A similar conclusion was reached by experts from the University of Montreal. They found that popular platforms, especially Instagram, encourage teens to compare their lives to the idealized photos they see in their feed. Comparing what they see with their lives, children begin to develop an inferiority complex.
The American youth organization DoSometing, based on personal observations, claims that social networks are increasingly causing a real addiction among users. In addition, on the basis of "not to miss anything important in the feed," sleep disturbance and stress may appear. This opinion is shared by scientists from the University of Glasgow, and they clarify: the worst effect on children is the use of social networks at night. This leads to sleep disturbances and increased levels of anxiety. In addition, if a child’s self-esteem decreases against the background of what he saw in the virtual world, then the risk increases significantly that in adulthood he will suffer from depressive disorders. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the so-called "Facebook depression" can affect not only adults, but also teenagers. Although more and more researchers agree that the most unsafe social network for children is Instagram and other platforms focused on demonstrating “photoshopped reality”.
Another danger of social networks is selfies. For many teenagers, the need to take pictures of themselves and upload pictures turns into a real mania, which is also evidence of certain mental disorders.
There are other consequences of excessive involvement in social networks:
- the child gradually reduces the amount of live communication in his life, as a result, he may experience real difficulties, when there is a need for dialogue in the real world;
- social networking sites infantilize the brain to the level of small children who are attracted to bright pictures;
- children develop selfishness: the presence of a personal page on the social network gives some children the feeling that the whole world revolves only around them and they do not care what is outside this virtual universe;
- the child becomes addicted to sensations, and it is desirable that he was the cause of it - his post on the social network.
Can social networks be useful for children
Not all modern researchers categorically adhere to the idea of the dangers of social networks. Some, on the contrary, see more advantages in this phenomenon.
For example, MacArthur researchers believe that social media develops important technical and social skills in children that are indispensable in the digital age. For example, the social network teaches you to constantly communicate, as well as to manage a complex network of friends.
In addition, the social network for young users is becoming:
- one of the main sources of information;
- a tool for dating and building communication links;
- a way to stay connected;
- a tool for developing creativity, for example, when creating videos for TikTok.
Some advice for parents whose children are addicted to social networks
1. Tell your child about the risks associated with social networks.
2. Encourage boys and girls to spend more time communicating in real life rather than virtual life.
3. Teach your child from an early age to spend more time with friends and relatives - so that later he understands that live communication is warmer, and friendship in reality is stronger than on the Internet.
4. Encourage his hobbies and hobbies in real life - so there will be less time to stay on social networks.
5. Explain to the child that social networks can be used with benefit - for study, self-development, and not for viewing informational garbage, which only steals his time.
6. Try to monitor the activity of your child in social networks - this will prevent the teenager from joining dubious groups (several years ago, the so-called death groups were very popular in social networks, pushing children to commit suicide).
7. If a child, having seen enough of other people's photos, complains that he lives worse than others, explain to him that all photos in social networks are a small part of real life, and often heavily edited.
And the most important rule. Good parents are always involved in the life of their children, they become not strict educators for them, but best friends. In the presence of a trusting and warm relationship, it is always much easier to lure a child away from virtual reality into real life, to explain that one true friend is better than thousands of followers on social networks, and it is better to enjoy your own life than to watch someone else's.
- Office for National Statistics. – Measuring National Well-being: Insights into children’s mental health and well-being.
- British Psychological Society. – Pressure to be available 24/7 on social media causes teen anxiety, depression.
- Ethan Kross, Philippe Verduyn, Emre Demiralp, Jiyoung Park, David Seungjae Lee, Natalie Lin, Holly Shablack, John Jonides, Oscar Ybarra. – Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults.
- Kate McKenna, CBC News, Jul 15, 2019.– Social media, but not video games, linked to depression in teens, according to Montreal study.
- DoSomething.org. – 11 Facts About Mental Health.
- Holly Scott, Stephany M Biello, Heather Cleland Woods. – Social media use and adolescent sleep patterns: cross-sectional findings from the UK millennium cohort study.
- Ronaldo Tumbokon, Raise Smart Kid. – Good and Bad Effects of Social Media on Teens and Kids.
- Center for home education "Algorithm". - The impact of social networks on children.