Liz Morrison, LCSW
Take a Look at the Pros and Cons of Social Media for Kids
It is sometimes hard to imagine a world without social media. It has become so integrated into our current culture that it seems like a necessity to function. Yet, it wasn’t too long ago that you wouldn’t know what happened to past friends or distant relatives unless it was mentioned in conversation, over the phone, or in person–sometimes months or years after the fact. Nowadays we trudge through our Facebook news feeds, our twitter home pages, and our Instagram accounts for the latest inspirational quotes, vacation photos, hot political opinions, and other news on a daily, sometimes even hourly, basis.
While it’s easy to see the change this has had on those of us who grew up in a time without social media, sometimes we forget that there are those who consider such technology to be a given, something that has always been around and always will be. We also may easily forget to consider what effects social media can have on kids, both positive and negative.
Social Media for Kids: Cons
1. It’s distracting.
Social media can have a negative effect on a child’s homework. Studies show that high school and college students check for updates on their social media at least once per fifteen minutes when studying. This can lead to lower grades and less attention to detail.
2. It makes everything seem to revolve around them.
Getting a lot of likes and comments in response to a post you made can feel great, even addicting. However, this can cause a child to purposely seek attention in any way he can. Some teenagers have gone so far as to fake a pregnancy (and sometimes a stillbirth to help explain why they don’t have a baby nine months later) for attention on social media. In addition, this attention seeking can inspire a narcissistic personality in a child.
3. It adds more drama to life.
Life is already full of drama, especially while you’re growing up. Social media doesn’t help with this. Written words are easy to misconstrue without the help of inflection and body language. People are also more likely to express their controversial thoughts and opinions on social media than they would in person. It’s just another possible source of unneeded drama.
4. Cyber bullying.
If you went back in time 10 years and mentioned the word “Cyber bullying” to someone, she would think that ornery robots had taken over civilization in the future. So new is this phenomenon that some states are still making changes to laws to help with cases in which cyber bullying led to suicide and/or murder.
Most people don’t go through the privacy settings on their choice of social media to limit the chance that their personal information will be made public. Even those who do take the time can’t stop such information from getting out when hackers get involved.
Social Media for Kids: Pros
1. It allows kids to keep in touch.
In the past, a child may have had the chance to talk to his relatives once a year at a family reunion. Did he get along really well with his second cousin at a family reunion? What if that cousin lived across the country or even across an ocean? Sure they could talk on the phone, but that’s limited and can be quite expensive. Now, with social media, they can trade information and keep in touch. People have never been easier to contact than they are now.
2. It helps them make friends.
Studies show that 57% of teens have made new friends through social media. Social media is one way that those with social anxieties, who might possibly be isolated otherwise, make friends.
3. It allows them to interact with the world.
Through social media, kids will find themselves exposed to different opinions and cultures. Now, all of their friends don’t necessarily have to be from the local area. In the past, this sort of exposure might happen when a teen went off to college, especially one that was out of state. Now that it starts at a much younger age, the shock is less severe.
4. It allows kids to help each other in school.
Students are using social media more and more to discuss homework assignments and help each other out.
Social media can be a scary thing for parents. However, with proper supervision, social media for kids can prove to be a helpful tool in their lives.