Social Media and Its Effect on Children: The Interception
With the increased access to internet, the younger online population worldwide has gained a massive growth in the last few years. You can find almost any age group on internet that is active, networked and participating every day. Teens and even under-teens are there crawling and surfing the internet without the consent of their parents almost every single hour.
According to Pew Research Center, the list of internet access by different age groups is topped by the group of 12 to17. And as a matter of fact, the most part of the time the kids stay online, they devote it to online gaming, social networking and some other eye catching illustrations. This is a general tendency in kids to get attracted to high dimensional illustrations. They just live up to the moment.
The Consequence: Coming to the point of social media from internet access, the younger generation including adolescents is going faster. Rather than making a real relationship they are tending more towards the online relationships. With the motive to shape, show-up a personality that they depict from their environment, parents, teachers and peers, children use social networking media at a vast level.
The Process: High dimensional graphical illustrations, short span fads, tech trends generally attract kids and most of the time they try to fit their personality in accordance with these fads & trends. They tend to create an adorable personality, under the influence of fads & trends, so as to find themselves in a better comfort zone among their peers and other online social networks. In the same process, most of the kids use social media sites much earlier than the legal age for these sites. As an end result, this affects our children both positively as well as negatively.
The Effects: Positives
- Increased level of use of technology and use of online knowledge base among children is a positive factor to mention. The term millennial fits best in this sequence. Whereas the kids of 80s had to do a lot of physical efforts to gather some real knowledge, the modern age millennial is blessed with internet and online peer, education and social networking.
- Online social networking works far better to get children involvement than the visible systems. Interactive involvements are possible with social media.
- As the world is shrinking with the use of internet and social media, our kids are aware of their environment and surrounding. They are aware of the issues relating to their interests and importance. There are some very good examples of kids networking on social media to unite against some great cause.
- Even politics is being touched and understood by our kids at a very fair level in comparison to their age. The example of 9 year old Sarah using YouTube to respond to President Obama’s speech to students in September 2009 is a great example to quote here. Social media is the platform that acts as the catalyst required to bring out the hidden talents and knowledge of children.
- The children groups worldwide are now much aware of the issues like sex, pregnancy, abortion, sex related diseases, myths & superstitions. And their participation in social media to spread the knowledge base is making it a real phenomenon to count on. Another example to quote here is about 12 year old Lia who uses YouTube to speak about abortion.
These are some the most important positive effects of social media on our children; but to make this article healthier and quote-worthy, I need to mention the most coined negative effects too. With the passage of time both the internet and social networking space are becoming inseparable part of almost every child. With the introduction of new age cell phones our younger generation is becoming more and more connected. As Nielsen blog says, “In the hands of children and tweens, today’s cell phones are primarily used as text messaging devices, cameras, gaming consoles, video viewers, MP3 players, and incidentally, as mobile phones via the speaker capability so their friends can chime in on the call.”
The Effects: Negatives
- Echoing the Nielsen Blog, we can point out the misuse of technology by our children as one of the primary negative effects. Social media is no different. Formation of internal assaulting groups, distribution of sexually explicit contents, cyber bullying etc. are on high note ever since the increased popularity of social media among our children.
- Another negative impact we can see is the excessive use of abbreviations among our children. These abbreviations came into being as a result of excessive online chats, comments and updates etc. The use of abbreviations, if not discouraged, would definitely give rise to a situation where we would be using no grammar at all. This is a very serious problem for the non-English speaking countries like India. I can see most of our Indian children losing the grounds on English grammar and spelling due to the use of excessive online abbreviations.
- Behavioral impact is the next big issue negatively affected by the improper use of social media. Peer influence, celebrity influence and even some adult influence through social networking sites can unrest and diversify the core moral values in children. And this is something really alarming for the whole family.
- Real relationships are at risk as most of the children tend to have more of online relationships than the real one. If our children are not guided properly on this, then there would be a time where physical identities would be limited to their online social networking identities only.
- According to an article in the Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin, obesity, attention disorder, eating disorder, violence are a few of the impacts of media on children.
- Sue Palmer, who authored ‘Toxic Childhood’, says: 'We are seeing children's brain development damaged because they don't engage in the activity they have engaged in for millennial.’ Palmer further says: 'I'm not against technology and computers. But before they start social networking, they need to learn to make real relationships with people.'
- Our gen-Y children (or millennial) are said to have a new style of life, a style where individualism comes first. And with the inappropriate use of social networking, internet and other technological advancements our children are sure to experience this hazard of individualism very soon.
- Kids are vulnerable to online frauds and aggressive marketing techniques. With the increase in uncensored use of social media, this risk is becoming more widespread every day.
While the gen-Y children all across the globe are becoming smarter in every aspect of life using social media and internet, yet we cannot dismiss the negative effects of social media on them.
Here we need a three shielded protection. First, we need active participation of parents and teachers in securing their children better on social networks and internet; second, on the part of the kids that they try to understand before they act, which is again possible under parental supervision only. And finally, our governments and regulatory authorities need to have adaptive laws and policies to protect and teach our children on the negative parts.
There are rules and regulations in every country, but they need to be amended as per the passage of time and the influence of technology. Authorities need to implement better and more adaptive laws so that it can suite our younger generation to dwell into the brightest future without any barrier.
In my next article, I would like to cover the safe practices and guidance on social media for children as well as parents. Please let me know the issues that you want to discuss and read. Have a safe social networking!
[Image credit: George Weir http://www.flickr.com/photos/gkweir/243781438/]