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Social Media Platforms and Risks

With discussion of social media and technology taking over the minds of our youth, as parents it is very difficult and at times seemingly impossible to navigate as a parent.  Children are more adept to technology than our generation, and the struggle of how to keep our kids not only safe, but set limits is seemingly impossible.

While there are a variety of social media platforms and the number continues to grow, some are more concerning than others.  Communication and video chatting among strangers is the most concerning. Make sure that you are having constant conversations with your children about who they talk to and review the safety of what they share. 

While this may sound like childish advice, most teens and young adults are reaching out and communicating with others, some feel socially removed and turning to platforms to make friends and feel accepted, while others struggle with the impulse control to manage and navigate what information to share. Monitor your child’s device, this is not AN INVASION OF PRIVACY.

 It is necessary in keeping your child safe.  Imagine your parents letting you go to a strange city and have conversations with anyone there, stranger danger exists online too-and it is increasingly difficult to supervise, especially without monitoring your device.  Life360, bark box as well as apps like unGlue and Qustodio are worth investing in.  

It is important to keep in mind that while it may just be a phone, or a device, the psychological and neurological effects of these devices, constant access to technology and the need to be attached to peers through their devices is not healthy.  The pure act of having a device out while you are sitting with someone else can not only be harmful and limit your brains ability to connect, but it also sends the message to others that you are not interested in them.  This is also important as parents when connecting with our kids. Not only do children learn from modeling, and your attachment to your device is showing them how to be addicted, but when they reach out to talk to you and you are on your phone-it is showing them that you have more important things to do. 

More and more lawsuits are popping up against social media platforms. Parents are constantly reporting that giving their kids devices was the end of their relationship. Our teens are in the middle of a mental health crisis, but more and more parents are giving their children technology younger and younger.  Elementary school children have access to youtube unmonitored, and gain access to pornhub, sex videos and increased communication to predators. 

At our practice, we would argue that this access to technology, the exposure to social media at younger and younger ages is developmentally destroying our children’s brains.  Through play our children learn how to navigate conflict, how to negotiate and advocate for themselves, which they are not able to do on an ipad or watching you tube.

Older elementary school children navigate and learn friendships and independence through structured games, recess and playing outside.  This doesn’t happen through text messages and video games.

Teens need to learn their sense of self and develop a confidence of who they are in this world. This is almost impossible when every click or free moment they have is bombarded with snapshots of people’s lives who are prettier than them, happier than them, or a constant comparison of what they don’t have. 

1 in 5 teens suffer from at least one mental health disorder in America. Monitor their devices, make time to connect with your child away from technology and devices. Let them have some of their childhood back, so they can develop strong, problem solving brains.