Parents these days are facing a major dilemma of introducing their kids to social media. With the world getting shifted online, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or TikTok, kids today have a lot more options to connect with people than the previous generation. We often bat an eye when we think of letting kids be on social media.
While it’s something that has become quite common today, parents are often skeptical about granting children phone access or letting them be on social media. Given the spurt of online trolling and abuse, social media use amongst younger kids should be precautious. However, if used correctly, social media can indeed act as a great tool in shaping your child’s personality, hone skills, and offer a lot of benefits.
Here are some advantages you must keep in considerations if you have been deliberating letting your child be online:
- It helps them to make real friends
- Social Media introduces them to real problems
- Social media can provide them support
- It can help them express themselves better
#1. It helps them to make real friends
Friendships and relationships are important during the growing up years. While online abuse and cyberbullying can be associated with social media usage, getting connected online can be a good way for your children to form friendships, beyond the physical realm. It can also be a great way to make connections if your child suffers from social anxiety and has trouble making friends. As long as they continue to use social media for good, these platforms can be a great getaway for them to connect and know about different cultures, people, and build on a broader perspective.
#2. Social Media introduces them to real problems
If you are on social media, you would realize that the real issues and news often break out of the digital space, and getting online can offer children a good level of awareness and knowledge by exposing them to issues that matter and social networks from all across the world. For kids who are growing up in a digitally progressive world, being on social media can make them true citizens of the world. Kids and teenagers today are using these platforms to raise positive thoughts, counter bullying and raise awareness on issues that matter.
Also, Read – Encouraging Body Positivity in Teens
#3. Social media can provide them support
One of the greatest wins from being present on social media can be the acceptance and validation it can bring, and offer a sense of belonging. Believe it or not, while social media can be terrifyingly isolating at times and make one susceptible to pressures, it can also be the open space growing kids need and get to understand that what they are going through is alright. From conversations on mental health, queer identities, being a certain way, un-gendered clothing, breaking male-female stereotypes, social media has space for all. By being around people of their age, or surrounded by positive stories, kids get a chance to accept themselves and strengthen the communication they have with their families.
#4. It can help them express themselves better
Back in the day, debates, speeches, events were considered the ‘only’ ways for a child to showcase their inner creativity and talent, even if in a limited realm. With the advancement of social media, kids today have a lot more scope to present and even hone their talent, express themselves in a way they deem fit, and even work around with a wider audience. Podcasts, fandoms, creative communities, and many online courses grant kids the freedom to express themselves freely, as they like.
The right time to let your kids access social media
Even with all the positive benefits, do remember that social media and phone use for the kids can be a tricky road to navigate, for there can be just as many negatives. With the times changing, kids today have access to phones a lot earlier than their seniors. Again, while it’s a purely personal decision to make, it’s important to assess your child’s maturity, cognitive skills, sensitivity, and problem-solving skills before giving them access.
Coach them right, explain to them the rules and children should also be taught about the ill effects of excessive screen time to make gadgets use safer.
Monitoring is the Key
This, again, can be a difficult decision to make. The important thing to keep in mind is trust. Snooping in on your child’s phone can also trouble your relationship with them. A wiser stance would be to work out a deal where you allow them the freedom to have a separate online presence, not frequently check or snoop, but also be in the know of the online friends they talk to, the content that they share online. Have a freewheeling chat with them to follow social media protocols, keep some sites off-limits, and be safe on the internet. For your reassurance, consider using parental locks, or restricting usage where necessary.