Social Media IS Ruining Childhood

The following video gives facts to support this argument.

Social media limits the ability for kids to navigate spontaneous social interactions. Instead of chatting with someone on the bus, their comfort zone is to pull out their cell phone to avoid the conversation or putting headphones on usually means I don’t want to talk, which in turn does not strengthen face to face relationships and communication skills. Kids don’t always have the experience to know how to initiate conversations, maintain a conversation, and make small talk, they become dependent on their phone to entertain them. Social media doesn’t teach the life skill to help prepare kids for dealing with conflict face-to-face. Kids might say something that doesn’t come out quite right, and they need to learn how to manage that situation. When non-verbal is missing it can lead to miscommunication, kids are missing out on practicing communication.

Social media sites offer today’s youth a portal for entertainment and communication and have grown exponentially in recent years. For this reason, it is important to become aware of the nature of social media sites, given that not all of them are healthy environments for children and adolescents. The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families, addresses and encourages healthy use and urge parents to monitor for potential problems with cyber-bullying, “Facebook depression,” sexting, and exposure to inappropriate content.

Depending on how social media is being used and can harm students struggling with mental health because it is taking away from meaningful face-to-face interaction with friends and family. Kids are not disconnecting which leads to sleep deprivation, one in five children admit to waking up in the middle of the night and looking at social media. Health is being negatively impacted if kids are passively engaging in social media, such as “lurking” or scanning other people’s profile instead of actively engaging with the content. As educators we need to discourage using social media in ways such as oversharing or stress posting for the purpose of increasing self-esteem or gaining social support. Kids are not always using creditable resources for support and learning purposes.

Peer acceptance is very important to adolescents. Although teens may be connecting with others in new ways, this also brings new opportunities for teens to feel unaccepted by peers. An Instagram picture that only gets a few “likes” may make a child feel unaccepted by peers; a rude comment on Facebook can lower a child’s self-esteem dramatically. Kids start defining themselves by the responses of others instead of their own self-worth. Their confidence and self-esteem can suffer. Their autonomy can lead to unsupervised risky behaviours at a much younger age which can also have a negative effect on their digital identity.

Cyber-bullying is on the rise.  Teens are either a witness to cyber-bullying, are victims or become perpetrators. The impact of cyber-bullying is grossly underestimated. Teen Cyberbullying and Social Media Use on the Rise, explores interesting facts and stats surrounding cyber-bullying. Signs and symptoms of detecting cyber-bullying in children are listed. As well, two videos are posted on this site including, “What are the Real Effects of Cyber-bullying?”, and “End Cyber-bullying 2015”.

Cyberbullying: Identification, Prevention, & Response, expertly discusses what cyber-bullying is, how it happens and what negative effects occur for kids. Some stats are provided and comparison is made between cyber-bullying and traditional bullying. Obstacles for the prevention of cyber-bullying such as outright dismissal or denial by parents, teachers and law enforcement. Parents need to better monitor their kid’s online behavior. Actions to prevent cyber-bullying in school are listed.

Over half of adolescence and teens are faced with cyber-bullying and about the same amount have engaged in cyber-bullying behaviourCyber-bullying is basically using technology to harass, threaten, humiliate or otherwise hassled their peers. Common types of cyber-bullying include: exclusion, cyber-stalking, gossiping, outing/trickery, and harassment, impersonation, and cyber threats. Because of youths limited capacity for self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure children are at risk as they navigate and experiment with social media. There are many detrimental outcomes associated with cyber-bullying. Youth report feeling depressed, sad, angry, and frustrated. They feel hurt both physically and mentally. It takes away their confidence and makes them feel worthless. They also may be afraid or embarrassed to go to school. 71% of teen use more than one social network and 21% said the main reason they checked social media often was to make sure nobody was saying anything mean. In addition research shows a link between cyber bullying and low self-esteem, family problems, academic difficulties, school violence and various delinquent behavior. Finally cyberbullied youth also report having suicidal thoughts.

Children and parents may also be unaware of the minimum age rules on social media. Six out of ten parents of kids who use Facebook didn’t know there was a lower age restriction or wasn’t sure what age it was set as. Nearly eight out ten parents whose kids use Instagram were not able to give the correct guidelines and the majority did not know the age restriction on Snapcash. Those social media sites require users to be 13 years old, while about 50% of children 10-12 years old have a social media profile.

To stay with the topic of Social media and not technology as a whole, Social media is meant for ‘entertainment purposes’.  It doesn’t make children smarter or teach life skills; nor is it needed for healthy social development. It is pure entertainment attached to a marketing platform, which extracts personal information and preferences from a child every time they use it. As well as takes hours of their time and attention. Social media replaces learning the hard social skills of dealing face-to-face with peers, which children need to practice to be successful in real life.

We need to teach the use of SM, for the purpose of social connection with supportive friends, for content creation and identity exploration. While one can argue that there are certain benefits of social media for kids, the costs are very high during the pre-adolescent years when their brains are still developing. It is easy for kids to waste too much of their time and too much of their brain in a digital world.

As educators, we need to inform children to see what dangers exist in social media and encourage them that there are healthier forms of entertainment, such as playing outside with friends or sports activities. Social media amplifies some of the effects on young people’s natural tendency to risk taking, fueled by notions of overnight internet fame or instant popularity.   Permanent negative digital footprints are being developed as a result of posting risky information. Research shows a link between cyber-bullying and low self-esteem, family problems, academic difficulties, school violence and various delinquent behavior. Cyber-bullied youth report having suicidal thoughts. Children and parents may be unaware of the minimum age rules on social media, leaving kids exposed to the dangers of using such sites at too young of an age.



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