Social media takes up a lot of our popular conscience. It is the driving force behind social interaction, current events, and popular culture in the digital age. While there are certainly positive aspects of social media including but not limited to interacting with far away friends and family, meeting new people, and professional networking, the internet can be a dangerous place for the impressionable youth. In this blog post, we will cover three harmful aspects of social media that parents and caretakers everywhere should be aware of when considering introducing children to technology.
Harms Their Developing Self Image
Magazines, commercials, and various forms of print and electronic media have always had a hand in the way children view themselves and the world around them. However, with the advent of social media, societal conceptions surrounding beauty/appearance are much more “in your face” (quite literally) at times through features such as photo filters that can modify facial structure, add makeup, or even change hair and eye colors. Societal idealization is no longer limited to models and celebrities in magazines. Instead, everyday people are modifying their appearance to conform to standards of beauty that are not realistic, despite how real the photos may look. These images can do damage to the self-esteem of fully cognitive adults who understand these nasty tricks, so it’s easy to imagine the relationship social media and children’s self esteem might have. The inability to achieve these standards of beauty will harm the child’s perception of themselves in a vulnerable, dynamic time of their lives.
Impact Social Relationships
Interpersonal interactions are rarely private, which creates a culture centered around the fear of missing out. Children can be especially susceptible to this when they see their friends posting photos of a sleepover they couldn’t go to or an event they weren’t invited to. Considering alternatives to social media for children during their developmental phase may also lead to a decreased risk of anxiety and depression associated with those feelings of FOMO. Children without social media are also better equipped to create genuine relationships with those in their personal lives as well as being kept safe from dangerous predators. Social media creates an exclusive environment that makes it difficult for young people to form trusting relationships when so many things depend upon interacting through vapid likes and comments instead.
Mental Health Detriments
Children and youth are vulnerable to the adverse mental effects of social media, especially as their brains are still developing. While still developing their identity and social skills, children are asked to reckon with an onslaught of societal standards and stereotypes surrounding things like sexuality, gender identity, body shape, and more complicated topics perpetuated in social media. This can harm the way they think about themselves and their capacity to empathize with others. Additionally, social media is proven to trigger a dopamine response in the human brain due to its unpredictable and ever-changing nature. This response can be addictive and is known to increase anxiety and depressive symptoms in children. Paired with an increased amount of screen time, social media can be detrimental to developing brains.
What Can I Do?
It is important that we are careful about monitoring our children’s internet access. Parents should consider limiting their little ones’ exposure to media through a variety of parental controls and child-specific technology available at their disposal. Please remember that keeping our children safe and healthy is not just limited to their physical health but includes their mental health as well. One way to limit social media use but allow your child to interact with their friends and family is with Angel Watch. Angel Watch is a revolutionary kids 4G smart watch equipped with video calling and text messaging for children without internet access, as well as GPS tracking, health monitoring, waterproof hardware, and more to limit your child’s ingestion of harmful media online.