The Impact of Social Media on Children – Online Harassment :Social media is a rapidly growing phenomenon across the world. Many parents are taking to the internet to connect with their children. It is an ideal way of keeping up to date with the activities of your child, from school, nanny, baby sitting etc.
Some social media sites allow you to invite your friends and family to interact in a “chat” type of environment. In this article we will look at the effect that social media has on children and why parents need to be aware of it.
First of all, it is important for any parent to remember that children are more prone to socialize with those of their own age, not teenagers or adults. Socializing with children, particularly teens, can be extremely positive for a parent as they can learn a lot from their peers. Also, many youtubers are traveling to new countries and exposing kids to culture they wouldn’t normally see. You are able to discuss a range of topics with your child and they can offer up useful feedback. If you want to get something off your chest, then this is a great place to do it.
However, there are a few caveats. You should make sure that you child is comfortable with inviting others to chat. A child’s first social interaction is likely to be with a close friend or relative. Once a child develops a close relationship with a parent, then it will become harder to prevent their view of that person being tainted by what they are reading or listening to on the internet.
The same applies when your child is exposed to images or videos of graphic violence. You should never let them see anything that can put them in any kind of danger. The same applies to anything involving the sexual nature of sex. Be careful how you word things, or your child may believe it. Movies are identified with graphic violence and specific content to allow viewers discretion on watching it. Online, there is no safe zone. Kids sometimes can access anything and everything.
Another pitfall that can occur is where a child becomes overly involved with someone on a social networking site. You need to talk to them about the images that they are posting. While you don’t have to remove access to the internet completely, you can warn your child about what they are doing and let them know not to post any pictures or videos of them who you do not approve of.
Finally, you can ask your child about their friends. Is the child friendly? Do they make friends easily, or do they tend to spend hours searching the profiles of other kids on the site? If they are spending hours doing this, then you may want to make sure they don’t have many “friends”. Kids become obsessed with how many “likes” they are getting on their posts. In addition, they look to how many followers they have as a sign of self worth. This can all be very damaging to a child’s confidence and self esteem.
With social media, if a child is able to take part in the conversations online, then that is great. But what does a child do if they feel like they cannot participate? Well, that is where you as a parent need to step in. If a child feels like they cannot participate on social media sites, even though they may be comfortable doing so, then you need to talk to them about why they think that is the case.
Usually, a child will be confused about what is OK and what is not. That is when you step in to talk to them. Let the child know that they can’t post things online that would cause them harm. Let them know that the adults running the social media websites know what they are doing, and that there is no place for them doing anything to hurt anyone. Make it clear that the adult in charge of their account always sees their Tweets and posts in a separate window. Those are some things you can do to help your child be safe on the social media websites.
Nowadays, it is extremely dangerous to even allow young kids to have a social media account. As mentioned earlier, social media can hype someone up and can also cause one to think very little of themselves. We all tend to look online and forget that most people we see on there have photoshopped their pictures. They do everything from cropping at a specific angle, or use filters to mask skin problems or issues. A lot of it is all “smoke and mirrors” and kids are too young to realize it. You would not buy your child a car without checking it all out and making sure it is safe. They would surely end up with a “Jerk Car“. You do your due diligence and check the tires, engine, and even purchase insurance and extended auto warranty. These are all the things done to keep your child safe in his or her new car. The same goes with allowing your child to have access to online social media. You need to vet the friends they have. Do a monthly check of who is following them or who are their “friends”. All of these steps are monumental in keeping your child safe if they are allowed on social media.
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