Social Media and Children
Kelly Amshey, Assistant Principal, ERMS
Children and young adults today live in a different world than the one that their parents knew growing up. Technology is central to their education, access to information, and ability to communicate. One aspect of the era of technology that is critical for parents to discuss with their student(s) is the use of social media.
Social media websites are a common part of today’s world and are utilized by adults, young adults, teens and, in some cases, pre-teens. While social media can be a fun way to communicate and express one’s self, these websites can also open doors to cyber bullying, predatory activity, and limitations on future opportunities.
Unlike personal communications, technology provides an avenue for people to communicate without seeing who or what they may be impacting. Comments posted on social media are far more likely to be cruel and exaggerated than those made in person because there is a lack of connection to the victim. Students that engage in cyber bullying may be entirely different than individuals who would bully within the walls of the school.
Another dangerous aspect of social media is the anonymity, which can be useful to predators. Some individuals may post false images and profiles in order to establish online relationships with young people. Upon building trust, they are often able to solicit personal information and may attempt to contact them in person.
Social media may also be problematic when individuals choose to post comments, images, and/or video that reflect poorly on their character. Colleges, places of employment, and scholarship committees often report that they investigate through social media and use the information in the decision-making process. Poor language, indications of illegal activity, mean behavior, or explicit pictures may impact the future of a young person.
What can you do to decrease the risk that your child is harmed by the use of social media? Recommendations vary, but most important is that you discuss the risks of using social media with your child frequently. Teens are pre-teens need to hear about and be reminded of the concerns to assist them in making positive decisions. Secondly, establish a family rule that indicates the minimum age or grade level for using these websites, perhaps age 14 or grade 8. Explain the importance of security settings to your child, so they understand the need to limit the access of their information to people they actually know. In addition, limit the use of these websites to a certain time of the day and do not allow them access on mobile devices. Contact your mobile provider for information on blocking these accounts. Lastly, you should also monitor your child’s social media accounts and have firm consequences for inappropriate use.
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