How Safe Is Social Media for The Mental Health of Teens?
Social media has become a necessary part of teens’ lives. They want their mobile phones all the time, they get addicted to the notifications and the unending chain of interaction there. Research done in Pew Research Center in 2018 showed that almost 45% of teens are almost online all the time and 97% are using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
Since it has become an important part of their lives, it has some impacts on them. Because of social media, kids have reduced their physical activities, take less interest in their daily activities, and are changing their lives all over. They like the glamour of interacting with new people and being engaged in the fun all the time. But, is it safe for them to use? Let’s take a look.
Benefits of Using Social Media for Teens
With their online activities, teens are more confident and they communicate with others while building relationships on their own. For kids who are suffering from any illness, emotional imbalance, or other issues, social media can be a great support if they have good friends over there.
Also, teens use social media for their entertainment and to express themselves. Most of the kids are seen as more extroverted on the social than they are in real life. Also, social media allows teens to know things that they don’t know. They interact across geographic barriers and get to know different things happening around the world. They also learn a lot of things this way and learn to manage themselves too. Even teens have reportedly said that social media is a source of treating depression for them.
Although it has its benefits, there is always another side too. Kids are young and impulsive so they get to know things fast and they like to explore everything. In doing so, they might face the barriers and dangers that are roaming all over social media. It takes no time for teens to go out of the hands of the parents and try dealing with every situation on their own which can cause them a lot of trouble.
Why is Social Media Not Safe for Kids?
Everything is good as far as it is used in balance. This is where social media slips out of hands. Once kids start using it, they get addicted to it. It disturbs their sleep, distracts them from their academics, makes them leave their physical activities, and much more. At the same time, kids are exposed to other threats like cyberbullying, strangers predating, peer pressure, and a lot more.
A study conducted in 2019 showed that kids who used to spend more time on social media are exposed to mental health issues more as compared to those who don’t use it that often. Other studies have linked the high use of social media to anxiety and depression issues. Nighttime use of social media can cause kids to lose their sleep, face issues such as high levels of anxiety and depression.
The constant use of social media is dangerous for the kids and then there are dangers associated with it. Bullies now use social media to trap their victims, spread rumors about them, and humiliate them in public. Some strangers act nice on these platforms to the innocent kids but are predators who look for the right time to attack and manipulate these kids.
Moreover, there are risks involved with sharing every sort of information on social media. Since kids get too much excited about their new world, they start sharing everything and don’t care about their privacy either. This is far more dangerous than any other threat because even if they don’t realize it when it is on the internet, the information is not going anywhere.
How to Keep Them Safe?
With these threats and dangers hovering over their heads, parents are worried. They can’t make them leave social media but they surely need to do something about it. They can teach their kids the right use of social media and guide them about safety measures. Here are some of the steps that parents can take to protect their kids:
· Set Limits
This should be among your house rules. They should know when it is time to put the phone away. When there is family time, mealtime, sleep time, activity time, or homework time, they shouldn’t be allowed to use their smartphones. This should be made a rule in the house so that you can limit their use of social media.
· Monitoring their Accounts
It might seem like an invasion of privacy but it is necessary at some points. Kids don’t seem to get when there is any danger coming their way but parents can know that. So, monitor their accounts with a good parental control app like SecureTeen to make sure you know the threat before it affects your kid.
· Tell Them What Is Not OK
You must teach them about the correct use of social media. Though it seems like a fun place, there is so much wrong that one can do about it. Tell them about the sharing that what should they post and whatnot. Also, teach them that they shouldn’t post anything to tease others, to spread rumors, or to follow any such intentions.
· Encourage Them to Value Real Friends
Tell them that the relationships over the internet are just for the time being and they shouldn’t take them seriously. Rather they should be encouraged to talk to their friends face to face, play with them, and have their company because that’s how real friends meet.
· Open Communication Policy
Encourage an open communication policy at home. They must be able to share everything with their parents no matter how embarrassing it is. They must know that you are there for them all the time and you won’t criticize them.
Social media is a dangerous place but if they are taught right, kids can make the best out of it without feeling suffocated by their parents.