Kids and Social Media: The Pros and Cons You Should Know About
15 May 2023
Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives that’s increasingly difficult to stay away from. Unfortunately, social media exposure has been associated with poor mental health. Its symptoms often include depression, interrupted sleep patterns, and anxiety.
This information is even more troubling when you consider that more and more children and teenagers are logging onto various social platforms. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, over half of teens visit at least one social media site daily. On average, they spend almost nine hours a day online.
It’s no wonder that kids and social media pros and cons are a much-debated subject.
Social media has a lot of benefits but we also need to protect our children from its possible ill effects on their mental health. Here’s what you ought to know about the pros and cons of letting your child use social media.
Kids and Social Media: Pros and Cons
Engaging with social media is a double-edged sword. Like most modern technologies, it offers a lot of benefits but it also has its fair share of drawbacks. Being aware of the effects it can have on your children will allow you to help them navigate social media more responsibly.
Pros of Social Media
When used responsibly, social media can benefit your children in many ways.
A Platform for Community Building
Social media is a great tool for connecting people. Children can benefit from this as they navigate the ups and downs of adolescence. It allows them to interact and build communities with their peers so they have a solid support network.
It also encourages them to communicate better as it enables users to post a variety of content (images, emojis, text, videos, etc.). This can be helpful for kids who aren’t comfortable with verbal and/or in-person communication.
Access to Knowledge
Social media is a great way for kids to broaden their horizons and expand their minds as it provides them with larger worldviews. They can explore different people, cultures, traditions, geographies, politics, and more.
As social media users, they can understand how large and diverse the world is while getting a glimpse into ideas and perspectives that they otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to.
Encourages Creativity and Expression
Social media is a great creative outlet for people of all ages. Children can learn new skills and explore their natural talents, allowing them to gain a stronger sense of identity. They can also share their creations and be encouraged with positive reinforcement when their peers interact and engage with their work.
Cons of Social Media
Here are some ways in which social media can be damaging to your child:
Lowers Confidence and Self-esteem
Social media comes with the risk of cyberbullying which can be a traumatic experience for your child. Even if they are lucky enough to never have a single negative experience online, it can still subconsciously affect them.
Children may compare themselves to other people which can impact their self-esteem and make them feel self-conscious. Social media is also known to cause body image issues among children which can lead to body dysmorphia.
Exposure To Inappropriate Content
The major benefit of social media is also one of its biggest drawbacks. Having so much information in one accessible place makes it difficult to censor content. It’s highly likely that children will be exposed to inappropriate content during their forays into social media.
We’re not just referring to sexual content either. Inappropriate content can also include discussions and issues that can complicate or hinder their natural brain development. They may also be exposed to bigotry and hate speech which could seriously affect their frame of mind.
Addiction and Overstimulation
Social media algorithms are designed to keep you engaged and scrolling for hours on end. Excessive screen time can damage your child’s eyes. It can also lead to an addiction problem. You may find it difficult to engage your child in other activities if they become addicted to the constant stimulation that social media provides.
Moreover, social media can also cause overstimulation which can lead to attention deficit disorders.
How To Maintain Responsible Social Media Consumption Among Kids
Given the fact that social media is impossible to escape and offers certain undeniable benefits, it’s important to find a middle ground. Here are some ways you can responsibly allow your child to access social media so their mental health isn’t negatively impacted:
Encourage Open Communication
Open communication will make your child feel less isolated and will make them less vulnerable online. In case they are in an uncomfortable situation, your child should know that they can approach you for help
Encourage Online Safety
Teach your child basic rules regarding social media safety such as not giving out personal information, not interacting too much with strangers, etc. so they can be responsible with their social media use.
Establishing boundaries can be tricky to navigate as you have to monitor your child’s social media use while giving them the freedom and space for self-expression. A healthy balance could entail limiting screen time or blocking accounts and keywords that may be inappropriate for your child.
Encourage Positive Self-talk
A major downside is social media can potentially harm your child’s mental health and self-esteem. To prevent this, encourage them to have a positive self-image through body neutrality and radical self-acceptance.
IMANA’s Commitment to Mental Health
Social media can be challenging to navigate, but it’s something that needs to be done. As a parent, you must ensure that your child can reap its benefits while reducing associated risks. Understanding kids and social media pros and cons is a great start to helping your child maintain a healthy perspective while exploring the vast world of social media.
IMANA recognizes the importance of your child’s mental health. If you need additional information, we have practical mental health resources to help you out. With some effort, you can show your child how to use social media safely and responsibly while ensuring their overall health and well-being!