By Cara Miller, CA Director of Technology
Social Media and your child
What seems like only yesterday, parents were concerned that their children were watching too much television or playing Nintendo too much. Those might still be a concern for some, but tides of media have shifted from traditional television watching to instant media via mobile devices. The landscape of media, specifically social media, make people feel connected and disconnected all at the same time. Is the exposure to social media harmful to your child, or just part of the daily landscape?
What is Social Media?
Social media is a generic term for a variety of apps used to interact and communicate with others online. Parents face unprecedented challenges as they raise children in a society that is inundated with instant communication. According to a research study by Common Sense Media in early 2018, amongst 13 to18 year old children the most popular social media tools are: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Each of these social media outlets offers a different way to share information, connect with friends, or collaborate, but it’s important for parents to note that new apps are built and put onto the web every day.
I gave them a device, now what?
If you have wrestled with questions about the effects of smartphones and social media on teens you are not alone. The moment you hand your child a cell phone or tablet you are making a choice to potentially expose them to the rapid world of media information. Honestly, denying the presence of a technology-rich society won’t make it go away. There’s a great deal of responsibility in having a mobile device no matter what the age. Of course, there are measures and parental controls available to reduce the exposure to the undesirables.
If you have a teen driver, the choice is almost one of necessity. In the above referenced research study by Common Sense Media, twice as many 13-to 17-year olds own a smartphone today than just 6 years ago (41% in 2012 compared to 89% in 2018.). During that same period, the percentage of teens who use social media multiple times a day also doubled, from 34% to 70%.
Once your child has a smart device, it’s up to you to train them on how to safely use it. It is important for you to do your research regarding the above mentioned apps and many others. Educate yourself on the uses of these apps and to educate your child on the positives and negatives of the apps. In the coming blog posts, I will discuss Social Media on many levels. Check back Thursday for part 2.