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Age restrictions on social media serve to protect children and ensure that they aren’t exposed to words, images, and people online that they may not be able to handle or understand. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram set 13 as their minimum age requirement, for example.
Unfortunately, the reality is that there are parents who choose to ignore these set age restrictions. They create accounts for their children, even for their babies, changing their birth years when they register to “meet” the minimum required age.
When these young account owners are allowed to browse and chat freely within a social network, they are exposed to potential cyber dangers potentially harmful situations. Here are 10 examples of how social media can hurt your child.
Several studies have cited the internet and social media as a big reason why people now find it harder to concentrate. This holds true for children as well, particularly those who are always glued to their gadgets, making them easily distracted because of shorter attention spans.
Online posts are often brief, and within seconds they are replaced by new status messages, images, and links. Likes, comments, and chat conversations pop up just as quickly. Due to this, a person's focus is fleeting when online. Instead of learning to slow down, read carefully, and think before reacting, kids are driven to think fast and react just as quickly when they are connected.
Too much social media can negatively affect a child’s grades in school. One reason is that having shortened attention spans can cause difficulty in concentrating in class and in finishing homework.
Apart from this, text speak is another problem from social media that has teachers worried. Instead of learning proper spelling and grammar, kids who spend a lot of time browsing and chatting on social media may end up becoming more accustomed to using text speak and social media chat terms. This reflects negatively on their school work as well.
Cyberbullying on social media is a serious problem. One of the biggest threats of cyberbullying is that it can reach a child or a teen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When kids experience being bullied online, they may become withdrawn and unwilling to go to school and interact with peers.
This is a two-pronged problem as your child may also become involved in the bullying of another person online. Statistics alarmingly show that children who bully by the age of eight are four times as likely to have a criminal record by the time they reach 30.
According to an interview with parenting and child development expert Denise Daniels, making social media the sole or dominant means of communication can cause children to lose the ability to empathize and sympathize and, as a result, end up lacking meaningful interpersonal relationships.
Social cues, body language, facial expressions, and reactions are lost in social media interactions. Because of this, clear and nuanced communication becomes a challenge, and so does developing truly meaningful friendships and relationships.
Spending time on social media can trigger a slew of emotions in a person, including negative ones. Some examples of negative feelings that social media may generate are anxiety, jealousy, loneliness, and stress.
When people in their network post about new purchases or travel photos, for example, this could cause your child or teen to feel jealous and dissatisfied. Posts from their friends could also make them feel neglected or left out. In worst-case scenarios, people may say something mean or derogatory directly to your child online, resulting in emotional trauma for him or her.
Mum blogger Janice Lim shares that while she does have access to her daughters’ accounts and can do random checks, she still fears what sort of things they may see from their friends’ posts on social media. She is particularly concerned about her 13-year-old daughter who now has access to more articles, photos, and videos on social media.
Explicit and violent imagery can find its way onto your child’s social media feeds, through reports of current events or sensationalised news. Having them exposed to these things early on while they are still unable to properly comprehend them could lead to them becoming desensitised and having a distorted view of the world.
Social media can provide a wealth of information about your children to online predators, including kidnappers and sex offenders. Their photos, status messages, location check-ins, school information, and even their friends list could spark the interest of random persons online.
This is one concern that mum blogger Millie Manahan has, with regard to her daughter posting selfies on social media. At best, this mother makes an effort to monitor the friends that her child adds to her network, so that she can be sure that none of them are suspicious characters.
Privacy might be the least of your child’s worries when he or she is on social media, after all they do want their posted status messages and photos to be seen. When they do not make use of the proper privacy settings, this exposes them to anyone and everyone who might stumble upon their profile pages.
Simple adjustments like turning off location tagging and setting accounts to private or friends-only could be beneficial for children online, and in a way, help preserve their privacy.
British scientist Susan Greenfield says that social media is causing a rewiring of our brains. One example she states is that constant exposure to social networking causes the youth to become more self-obsessed and narcissistic.
These kids are given free reign to create profile pages that are solely about them post as many selfies as they care to share. When these posts, pages, and photos consistently receive adulation or "Likes" from others, it could lead kids to feel like things revolve around them, and could be the beginning of bigger emotional and identity issues later in life.
Too much of something is not always a good thing, including time spent on social media. Kids who find themselves obsessed or addicted to social networking sites may waste hours on end browsing and refreshing their feeds, eagerly awaiting new updates.
These hours are spent unproductively instead of them being used for accomplishing something more important or meaningful.
Republished with permission from: theAsianparent Philippines.
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