Impact of Social Media in Children’s Mental Health
Since its birth a little more than a decade ago, social media has rapidly evolved into something of a major strand in everyone’s lives. It has become an ever-present element in our society that it’s a little difficult to remember a time when it didn’t exist. It brought about a lot of changes; it changed the way we see and share information. It broke through barriers that used to limit us; it brought us closer to each other, no matter the distance of our locations. And lastly, it opened up doors to new opportunities and possibilities.
There is no mistaking that social media has alleviated the way we live our lives. From easier news dissemination to job opportunities of work from home, it made a lot of things possible.
However, like all things in the world, too much of anything can be bad. Social media has become a double-edged sword; as much as it can benefit us, it also exposed us to many risks and dangers. Even as teens and adults, people find it difficult to deal with these adverse circumstances. This only makes us wonder; what kind of impact does it have on children when even grown-ups struggle to cope with its development?
How does social media actually affect their mental health?
Let’s find out.
Impact of Social Media on Children
There is a recurrent debate about the impact of social media on children. Some argue that it affects individuals positively, while some beg to differ. Unfortunately, there are only a number of published articles and researches that give light to the actual impact of social media on children. But before you take that phone from your little one, let us assess the positive and negative influences of social media and in what ways can these factors possibly affect your child’s mental health.
Positive Impact of Social Media
We cannot deny that social media potentially influences our children in a positive way. True to its objective, it has provided young people a way to connect. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter drastically increased development in social connections. They also provided an outlet of self-expression for young people in this generation.
Many young people recognize the beneficial impact of social media; it has helped young ones to develop their identities and share their opinions to the world. It also paved the way for young individuals with mental health concerns to access support easier through social media networks or online counselling support system.
It also contributed in the easy dissemination of announcements, news, and information, countering ignorance and oblivion regarding worldwide issues and matters.
Negative Impact of Social Media
Concerns over the negative influence of social media have grown simultaneous to its popularity. Reports and studies on suicide, addiction, cyberbullying, depression, and crumbling social interaction have caused most people to view social media as a potential contributor, if not the instigator, of these problems.
Most statistics show that the younger generation view social media in a positive light. However, there is a deeper unseen issue that is not reflecting in most statistics and researches. This rests on the tailored experience of young individuals against social media.
Some issues that are highlighted by most people are:
- Concerns about excessive and detrimental time spent online;
- Privacy violation;
- Negative influence on body image;
- Exaltation of issues about insecurity;
- Sources of harmful content, such as websites or social networks enabling the promotion of self-harm, abuse, and violence;
In addition to this, reports show adverse effect of heavy social media usage among young individuals:
- Heavy users of social media are 56% less likely to be happy compared to people who spend less time online;
- Young people claim excessive exposure to social media increase their risk of depression up to 27%;
- Reports show that while Youtube is seen as a positive platform; other platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram increases feelings of anxiety;
- As of 2015, studies report cyberbullied girls are twice in number more than boys;
- Depression in boys increased by 21% while it increased by 50% on girls over the span of three (3) years;
These statistics were conducted on 2015, and are still actively increasing in percentage over the years. (Source: link)
Aside from this, there is also a noticeable increase in reports of children exposed in social media for longer periods of time suffering from lack of sleep. This can have an adverse effect on kids as well; these can heavily affect their mood, ability to think, and willingness to interact or participate.
How can you help?
Now that we are aware of both the beneficial and harmful effects of social media on our children; as parents, what can we do to combat negative influences brought by social media on our children?
For starters, children should be oriented about various contents in social media. It is the responsibility of parents to promote healthy online participation. Direct and strict adult supervision is also highly recommended, especially on children aged 6 to 12 years old. Parents are also responsible to control children’s screen time; this is to decrease the risk of excessive social media exposure and usage. And last but not the least, restrict accessible content on children. Some Internet Service Providers (ISP) offer features like parental consent before accessing certain websites. You can utilize this feature, especially if you cannot afford to supervise your child online.