Teenagers today will become the first generation that will come of age with the influence of social media, which has been linked to addiction, interference with schoolwork and sleep, increased anxiety and depression and exposure to adult issues or content earlier than should happen. It’s where they form relationships, communicate and shape the version of themselves they want others to see.
Brad Parker says, “I got a little taste of this with my daughters. My best advice is to limit the amount of screen time for teens and get them outside and into the real world."
So what specifically can parents do to separate their teens from their devices?
Ask yourself, “Would you give a 10-year-old the keys to your car and say take a spin?” So many parents allow their children to navigate the internet before they are mature enough or possess the skills to do so safely.
There is a reason the minimum age to open an account on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat is 13 years old. While many people may believe it’s no big deal to have their kids sign up with a fake birthday, consider this…the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is a federal law protecting those under the age of 13 from having personal information gathered about them online.
That means if your 10-year-old registers falsely, big data groups will spend hours observing what games they play, what websites they visit, who they are communicating with online and what topics they are discussing with friends.
Addiction is Real
From the mental health perspective, concerns have been raised about the negative impact of excessive use of social networking sites on the health and wellbeing of users, especially that of youth.
With social media now replacing traditional news outlets, teens are relying on these social networks for all their news on politics and other information. The addiction also feeds into their ego. Teens begin to judge their worth on how many "likes" they get and how many followers they have.
Other Hidden Dangers
There is nothing wrong with occasionally sharing on social media, but if your child feels the need to constantly update everyone about every detail of their day, that can be a problem. Parents should follow their teens on social media and check in on how often their child posts and what they are posting.
Children should be taught about the dangers of posting their location online and sharing too much information like where they go to school, their address or locations they visit as part of their daily routine. Strangers can easily access this information.
Brad says, “You have to educate your kids about the dangers lurking in the cybersphere. Have them tighten security settings and advise them to be careful about who they add as a friend.”
We aren’t suggesting that children become Luddites. There are benefits to utilizing technology, but it becomes murky when introduced too early or it begins to interfere with a child’s mental health, academic success or well-being. If parents can guide their teens to make healthier choices regarding social media use, it will ensure they aren’t trapped in a virtual existence and their lives are opened up to a bigger world to enjoy.
At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients.