Social media is so new, no studies have been done to know what long-term effects it can have on our health and wellness. But, we do know there are nearly immediate effects of too much social media use.
No one is immune to the way social media can impact their lives. For children, due to their developing brains, social media use can be highly detrimental.
Are your kids being negatively impacted by social media?
Using social media excessively hinders communication skills and development in kids. One of the biggest things I notice with kids who use social media extensively (which are most of them) is how their communication skills are negatively impacted. Children who use social media often — three or more hours a day of non-academic use — aren’t as skilled at communicating. They typically don’t speak in full sentences, lack the ability to tie-in their emotions when communicating and most importantly don’t make eye contact.
We tend to take in-person communication for granted, but it’s important because without it (and with social media), it becomes more difficult to know and read behavioral cues. Even worse, kids who are on social media can become less empathetic and connected to each other. They aren’t able to read people correctly and things become lost in translation.
Kids become more isolated, which leads to depression, angst and anxiety when using social media. Children who are on social media may be unable to determine where they fit in the social realm. There isn’t an authentic friend group in real life, and most social circles live their lives online. Groups are fluid in social media and it’s easy (and lightening fast) to become ostracized. In addition, the more kids are on social media, the more they can grow to have feelings of being left out when they know what others are posting and doing.
In females, the Mean Girl Syndrome develops from being on social media platforms. Girls are at higher risk of being cyber bullied because social media is social. They use platforms like Instagram at a higher rate and for different purposes than boys. The Mean Girl Syndrome fosters an environment where it’s easy for girls to lash out without feeling like there are many (if any) consequences.
Males face a higher rate of legal consequences if they are on social media. There’s a natural tendency for boys to act out because of their lagging development and hormones, which means they are driven through by sexual desires without many guardrails up to protect them. For instance, boys who use social media can have lasting legal repercussions because of their solicitation and distribution of child pornography.
A child’s self-esteem can diminish greatly due to social media use. Teenagers become acutely aware of where they fit in when it comes to their body image. Social media tells them how to look, which can be extremely damaging to a teen. Filters, staged shoots and more can influence impressionable teens and cause them to feel bad about themselves. This increases their desire to feel needed and belong. The teenage years are when the foundation of self-esteem occurs and when they really develop their self-worth. But, it’s all influenced when social media identities become more important and valued than real life.
Grades can drop if kids spend too much time on social media. There’s a direct correlation between kids and cell phone use in an academic setting. The London School of Economics conducted a study showing the more teens are on their cell phones, the lower their grades. The more vulnerable students and the less academic students are more impacted by this than a student with “A” grades.
Attention in real life decreases when kids use social media too much. Kids who leave their cell phones on the table or out when they’re not online lose about 40 percent of the attention they are giving to the task a hand.
Are your kids showing any of these signs? Sign-up for our free webinar today to learn how to keep your kids healthy and safe when they’re online.