Teens and Social Media – How Safe Are They?
According to the latest researches, almost 63% of teens use social media every day, while 43% have reportedly said that they are constantly online. The most commonly used platform for teens is Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and YouTube. While we see that there are a lot of things that are not right for teens over these platforms, there are good things as well.
Teens and social media is a topic that has been in the debate for so long and the experts have studied various aspects of it. It is observed that social media does have some negative and even worse effects on teens’ mental and physical health. But, if they are taught to use it the right way, social media has some beneficial impacts as well.
Mental Health of Teens and Social Media Use
To start with, many studies have shown that teenagers don’t get proper sleep when they are stuck to their smartphones and social media. They get so much addicted to the use of social media that they hardly can get their attention off it. They are also seen as distracted in school and home while doing important chores. With these effects, there are far worse things that are being induced by the constant use of social media in teens.
Experts say that there may not be any direct causation revealed yet, but the negative correlation is quite obvious and proven. Teen and social media use are proven to be negatively related to each other. The frequent use of social media can lead to depression, anxiety, loneliness, and worsen self-esteem.
Linda, the director of Youth Media & Wellbeing Research Lab has found through her research that almost 21% of teens usually ‘feel down’ about themselves after the use of social media. Mostly these down feelings were due to body image especially with women who check their social media again and again and follow celebrities. Teens tend to compare themselves with others on social media and feel down afterward for not being perfect like others seem to be.
Social Media is not all bad
According to a study, 31% of teens say that social media had a positive impact on their lives while 24% say that they usually feel negative after its use. The other 45% say that they neither feel positive nor negative.
Social media usage can have a good impact as well as a sense of belongingness and connectivity, self-esteem, personal contentment, emotional control, identity development, and emotional expression. Most of the teens also report receiving and giving emotional support online through these platforms which brought positivity in them. This is more common with teens who have an illness or dealing with other experiences like isolation.
The Smart Use of Social Media for Teens
If you want your teen to stay away from the negative impacts of social media and gather the positive impact only, you can help them use social media through smart ways. Setting some limitations to the use of social media for teens can help with the right use of social media.
It is just like when you have just bought the car, you won’t give your kid the keys and let him drive for the first time without any guidance. In the same way, you can’t leave them with the whole social media world without any proper rules and guidance. Through mutual understandings, you can set up some standard rules and shared expectations to give them autonomy and set some limitations at the same time.
Some researches prove that monitoring your kids can reduce the changes to the problematic behaviors rising such as social media addiction and bullying. So, if you want to save your kids from the dangers of social media, you can do the following things:
· Restrict Access
You must not leave them with their smartphones and social media all the time. You ought to have some rules about which platform should be used more frequently and what time limit should be decided. They shouldn’t be allowed to use the smartphones after their bedtime, during lunch or dinner, in family gatherings, or homework. This will let them understand the standard rules of using social media which will be beneficial for later.
· Monitor them
Most of the parents become pretty much confused when it is about monitoring their kids’ phones as they think they might be taking away their independence. They also think that this will affect their relationship with their kids. But studies have proved that monitoring can save the kids from many dangers that might fall upon them if they are not under supervision.
There are several parental control apps like SecureTeen that can let you monitor your kids thoroughly. Through monitoring, parents get to know about things way before the dangers hit their children and they can do something about it at the moment.
· Open Communication
Another way of bonding with your children while keeping them safe is to communicate with them openly about the things that they can face on social media. They shouldn’t feel like you are hiding something from them, so talk to them and involve them in the decisions that are about them. Talk to them about how the wrong use of social media can lead to destruction for them and how kids have been facing difficulties because they don’t tell their parents about what is going on.
If parents are concerned about teens and social media use, they must talk to them about those concerns. They must involve their kids when they are making some standard rules, when they are monitoring them, or when they are helping them make their accounts. Earning their trust is the key to better use of social media by teens. They must know that their parents are the ones that they should go to whenever they feel like they are in trouble.