Children these days are more into social media than television and video games. They are hooked to sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and MySpace etc. Why? Because like adults children too love to share their life with others, show-off their photographs or talk about the places they have visited. This is also because children like adults love the entertaining and funny stuff that is posted on these sites. And they don’t want to be seen as lagging behind in their peer group.
Till the time the social media is used in proper doses (that are cautiously monitored by adults), it is safe. But a parent should worry of it is obsessively used with wide-open access to age-inappropriate content.
Experts say a child’s obsession with Facebook can lead to depression. There are many studies that show that if a person spends more time on Facebook, he/she is more likely to become dissatisfied with his/her own life. Significantly, such negative effects don’t happen from interacting with others in real life.
And tweens and teens are at such an impressionable age that the negative effect can be far more deep than in case of adults. Teenagers already have to deal with hormonal changes that make them vulnerable to many issues, often highly strung.
One main issue that children have to deal is that of body image. Seeing slim and toned pictures on the facebook, and these may be of complete strangers, a teenager is likely to develop a negative body image of his/her self. And in the long run it can lead to depression.
“The attention to physical attributes is more dangerous on social media than on traditional media like films and television because participants in social media are people we know,” says Nirmal Sharma, a senior teacher, who regularly counsels her students on this issue.
“Even adults often feel sad when comparing Facebook photos of themselves and those of their friends. So what to talk of teenagers who are already too much into looking beautiful,” she adds.
Pernicious preoccupation on Facebook is very common these day among the children. Many children put in fake identities on these sites. If your teenage son is cackling at photos of his drunken friends vomiting at parties, and if your daughter is starving herself so that she can match her stick-figured friend, it is time to wake up, and put some rules.
Limit the number of hours your child spends time on computer per day, monitor the content he/she is watching, keep an eye on what he/she is doing, and keep explaining how these habits can negatively impact their developing brains.
Psychologists say that the less technology a child uses, the better it is for his/her all-round growth and development. And, as parents it is your duty to lead by example. So indulge less on social sites if you want your child to do the same. For, if your face is pasted to an electronic screen most of the time, your impressionable offspring will consider that normal, and follow suit.
Shut off all gizmos regularly and enjoy face-to-face conversation. Take your children outside, without digital toys, and enjoy the wind, sunshine, trees, and flowers. Growing brains need this kind of nourishment and technology, no matter how advanced, cannot supply it.