Social Media plays a vital role in our lives; they are an online tool that we use to communicate with others, share information, learn new things, etc. Information-sharing can be in different forms like images, videos, documents, etc. It has altered the way people live today by making communication and sharing much more accessible.
It is primarily popular among teens and kids. According to Common Sense Media Census Research in 2019, kids aged eight to twelve spend close to five hours on social media per day while teens use it for about seven hours. No wonder social media is affecting them mentally.
According to Pew Research Center, the most popular social media sites among teenagers in 2018 are Youtube, Instagram, and Snapchat. Teens were also active on Facebook, although that popularity dropped in 2017.
Statistics About Social Media’s Impact on Youth Mental Health
From the perspective of some parents and teachers, social media has benefited kids and teens by helping them develop communication skills, learn new skills, gain information about the world, make friends, etc.
But like everything, there are always positive aspects and negative aspects. Like in the real world, kids also will encounter destructive behaviors and bad practices which can affect them mentally. The activities online will mirror their physical lives like making new relations, strengthening existing relations, breaking relations, etc.
According to Pew Research Center’s 2018 survey of teens, one out of six kids faces abusive behavior online (can be of any form).
- Calling Names (42%)
- False rumors about the person (32%)
- Receiving explicit photos (25%)
- Having their activities stalked by someone (21%)
- Someone making physical threats (16%)
- Having their explicit media shared with others (7%)
These kinds of social media abuse affect kids mentally very much, reflecting on their physical lives. It can cause loss of confidence, anxiety and depression, mental illness, etc. Some of the symptoms of social media anxiety disorder are:
- Spending more than six hours a day on social media and lying about it
- Isolating from friends and families
- Losing interest in other activities
- Having unnecessary social media feeds and sharing habits
- Checking social media on their smartphone in the middle of a conversation with someone
Social Media and Youth Mental Health: Tips to Prevent Negative Effects on Children and Teens
If you are a parent, you must be very careful what your child is doing on social media. Always keep in mind the severe consequences that social media can bring to your kid’s life. You can adopt the following preventative measures:
1. Teach Your Kids to Stand Against Online Abuses
There is a high chance your child may face abuse which can be of any form. You should talk to your kids about these things, make them strong mentally, and motivate them to stand against the abuse.
Remind them to share things with you that they may feel uncomfortable with or if someone is trying to harm them. Spend time with your kids so that they feel comfortable sharing things with you.
2. Keeping Track of Kids Social Media Activities
Keeping track of their kid’s social media activities doesn’t mean interfering or trying to guide them on everything they do on social media. Instead, it means keeping tabs on activities without invading their privacy.
You should always watch for signs if social media is having a negative impact on your children or not. You should not take this thing lightly, and you can get help from health care professionals if you find something fishy in your kid’s behavior.
3. Keep Your Child’s Account Private
Almost all social media platforms provide you a feature of keeping your profile private. As a parent, you should make your child’s profile private. It means they can only view the contents of the people who they are friends with.
It is a considerable step to limit your child’s content viewing and keep away your child from unknown people who may misuse their profile.
4. Establish an Age Limit to Use Social Media
Yes, you must familiarize your kids with different social media platforms. Social Media can help your child develop communication skills, make friends, gain information about different things, etc. but always check the age limit to use the specific social media platforms.
Most social media networks have age 13 as the age limit to create an account. So you should look if your child is creating accounts on different social media platforms without your permission or not. If they are above 13 and using social media, make sure to limit their screen time.
5. Make Sure They aren’t Sharing Personal Information
Social media is full of frauds and scammers. Identity theft is one of the worst things that can happen on social media. So always check if your kid is sharing their personal information like home address, phone number, etc.
Parents must know what kind of information their kid is sharing on social media, full of strangers.
6. Don’t Allow Them to Share Media Files that can Harm Their Safety
Check if your child is posting media files like photos, videos, or files that can harm them at present or in the future. There are many cases where media files have damaged teen’s lives.
You should talk to your child about this and inform them of the long-term consequences they may face. Ensure they understand that they only should post things that will not harm anyone and give a positive light.
7. Don’t Allow Them to Accept Friend Requests from an Unknown Person
Not allowing them to accept friend requests from strangers is a perfect step, as many scammers and frauds are on social media. It’s a good practice to accept friend requests from friends and families only you have known in person.
To Sum Up,
Social media can be perfect for your kids because you can find many valuable contents which can help your kids develop skills and gain a lot of information. But as a parent, you should always look for signs if social media is affecting them negatively.
If you want to be extra careful about the safety of your child, then you can use a third-party app that can help you track your child’s social media activities. You can use the MobileSpy app, which not only tracks your child’s social media activities but also view their smartphone’s text messages and media files. You can view the contacts with whom they communicate and see their location using a GPS tracker, which is in-built in the app.