How much is too much?
Kids use social media but it doesn't mean they are ready for its impact...
SOCIAL MEDIA AND YOUR KIDS
No one can argue that kids find social media easy to use. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and more continue to report growth in the use of platforms by young people. New platforms pop-up and kids take to them like fish-to-water. They are after all, primarily designed to attract young users and make advertising profits from their content consumption.
But there are many positives to social media and as always, education and awareness of risks can help keep your kids safe. The more time kids spend on social media, the more time they are exposed to the risks of being bullied; peer pressure or the grooming behaviour of adults whose aim is to prey on vulnerable young people. Even infrequent users can be affected by these risks and a tweet or post can have a real and powerful impact on a young person’s emotional wellbeing.
Your kids and teens are quick to use social media - but are they prepared for the emotional journey it can bring?
The first thing most young people would say they use social media for to "stay in touch with my friends." At the heart of that sentiment is the emotional need to belong, be involved and be involved/supported by peers. Those are fundamental emotional needs of young people and if they are threatened or not met - even temporarily - emotions can feel overwhelming.
What drives my kids towards social media?
When young people go looking for updates from friends or pictures from parties, they are often seeking ways to find out:
- How can I express myself?
- What can I do to be popular?
- What are the "cool kids" doing?
- Will I be able to make friends or find love?
Here lies the challenge for parents, carers and teachers. How can we protect young people, who are using social media for fundamental emotional support - when it's happening in a cyber-world where a tweet can cut deep? Even the most adjusted, stabilised and best intended young people, using social media to "stay in touch with friends" can end up feeling bullied, isolated, rejected and alone.
How can I help keep my kids safe in social media?
- Building your own understanding of the risks associated with social media
- Do some further research into the emotional needs that drive young people
- Familiarise yourself with the social platforms they use and learn about what privacy settings are available
- Start conversations in a calm and supportive way with respect for their privacy.
- Lead by example and always remain approachable.
- Share these Staying Safe Online Tips & Info with your teens.
Kids Helpline has very helpful information for parents keen to make sure their kids are Enjoying Social Networking Safely. If you're worried about the impact social media is having on your kids, you can also reach out to Parentline QLD+NT (a service of yourtown) or search here to find a Parentline in your state.
At yourtown, we are tackling the issues young people have. We continue to be part of the solution and provide services that young people can access to find jobs, learn skills and live safer and happier lives.
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