How Is Social Media Harming Our Kids?
Today children and teens are spending more and more time on social media, and most of us underestimate just how strong of an impact social networking can have on them. In fact, one report from the Office for National Statistics showed that 27% of children who spend three or more hours per day on social media sites have symptoms of mental health. Here is a look at some of the many effects that social media can have on child and teen mental and behavioral health.
Hindered communicative development
According to Baroness Susan Greenfield, who is a top neuroscientist at Oxford University, too much social networking can detract kids and teens from learning to develop proper communication skills in the real world. Communicating primarily through a screen also prevents children and teens from learning to recognize the subtleties of communication, such as body language and tone of voice. Ultimately, these barriers to communicative development can be detrimental to mental health, as children and teens may eventually have difficulty effectively communicating their thoughts and emotions to others.
Social media is centered around having a space online to call your very own—one that is entirely about you and that allows you to voice your thoughts and opinions to the public. While in many ways this can make social media a healthy outlet, it isn’t difficult to imagine that this can cause social media to promote self-centeredness as well. Self-centeredness is dangerous in children and teens because it can lead to a sense of entitlement, rebelliousness, or an inability to empathize.
Of course, social media also creates a platform where children and teens (and adults) are likely to make unrealistic comparisons to their friends and classmates. People tend to post the highlights of their own lives and present their ideal selves on social media, and this can easily create unrealistic standards that children and teens then compare themselves to.
The American Academy of Pediatrics actually coined the term “Facebook Depression” to characterize the negative psychological effects that heavy social media use can have on children and teens. In addition to feeling the pressures of unrealistic comparison while on social media, children and teens can develop feelings of anxiety or depression as they see posts that make them feel unpopular or excluded from events.
Social networking sites can also be host to vicious cyber-bullying. Be it through comments, private messages, shared posts, or unauthorized posting of photos, kids are seeing more ways to be bullied than ever before.