I came across an interesting article on the New scientist titled “Do we teach our children to tweet?” written by Nic Flemming. The article though short examines and points out the critical elements that we sometimes overlook when we parent our children. Can social media usage be appropriate? If so then then what are guidelines? Read on
Social media has become quite popular ever since Mark Zuckerberg came along. But then the risks of using particularly for the younger crowd are more worrisome. Some say the benefit outweighs the risks as it expands their horizons and makes them a divergent thinker.
As you would know the minimum age (official) to use or rather to participate and entertain is 13 for Facebook, Whats app, Instagram and Snap chat.
Ann Long field who is the children’s commissioner for England made a study on the impact of social media use on 8 to 12 year olds. The study was published last week. Her study showed starkling results and there was a contrast. Children enjoyed sharing these jokes and staying connected with family and friends but at the same time expressed anguish that they had to be compete unreasonably to be in limelight and be the talk of the community.
Constantly being online and commenting to posts takes a toll, apart from shaping their own personal activities to make them more attractive to their peers so that they can share them online. There is a constant pressure to fit in.
However considering the circumstances, it could be either healthy or detrimental depending on how you look at it.
It also creates a kind of competitive peer pressure. For example, if somebody is into something novel and exotic like ice skating or simply about how much home work or exam preparations they have covered creates a competitive pressure. It is difficult for ten year olds to stay away from it.
Such peer pressure existed even before the likes of FB and snap chat came along even in the earlier generations. But then such pressure to confirm came from the outside of the immediate circle. People or friends who were outside of their homes and probably through face to face interactions at schools.
Now with social media the 8-10 year olds have the whole world to interact and share and probably also learn a lot more.
‘Now the pressure could come from any of the 3 Billion online and follows them from school to home and even continues through the night’ says Beeban kidrow, Founder of 5 rights, a campaign group for children rights online.
Parents are increasingly apprehensive and would want to know how they can protect their children online. We cannot be too liberal in the name of gaining worldly awareness and at the same time be overly protective.
According to Kidrow, it is better to understand the childhood milestones and see th child fits in or what is appropriate for social media use.
- At the age of 5, there is increased dependency on parents and carers for security and guidance.
- From 6 to 11- There is increased independence and self care.
- From 12 – 18 – There is a growing dependency on peers (away from parents) and autonomy.
It is time that we need to assess the suitability of social media use based on our Children’s age. Parents are begining to understand such messages and they are providing guidance to their children. This is needed before children reach secondary school.
It is good to look at social media use for children holistically rather than focusing only on the potential negatives. It would be good to say social media usage is good but there is a caution to use it responsibly. The onus falls on parents to teach and expose children to social media use appropriately.