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One topic that frequently arises when talking to parents, teachers, and administrators is social media and its impact on students.
One topic that frequently arises when talking to parents, teachers, and administrators is social media and its impact on students. The issues that used to take place in the cafeteria or during recess/PE now take place on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and Discord. Social media has compounded many of these issues because once something is posted, it has the potential to be reposted and reshared forever. Social media platforms are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, preventing students from getting a break from peer pressure when they leave school.
Social media can negatively affect students in many ways, including anxiety and depression. Research suggests that young people spending more than 2 hours daily on social media are likelier to report poor mental health and low self-esteem. Social media can also negatively impact your child’s sleep if they access social media on their phones at night.
You may ask, what can parents and the community do to help? To start, remember that the minimum age to use most social media platforms is 13 years old. Children under this age using social media may be doing so against the platform's rules and guidelines. Additional suggestions for social media access are below:
Control of device use: Restricting the time duration of device use is a great step in protecting students from the negatives associated with social networking. Additionally, using protection software on the devices used by teens and children offers a safe way to control without restricting their presence on the Internet and social media.
Control of privacy: It is important to ensure that your student’s settings are always private to prevent unsavory characters from entering their digital world.
Monitoring of contacts: Every parent/guardian must determine their own limits to control the number and type of contacts the child has on their social networking accounts. It is not unreasonable to set rules that only allow people they know (and the parents know of) into their contact list.
Content: Have a direct conversation with your student about the type of content they post, emphasizing that once something is out on social media, it is nearly impossible to take it back.
Disabling location/geo-tagging of posts and photos: For safety and privacy, it is best to turn the location tagging information off.
In addition to the tips above, it is equally important for you to have open and honest conversations with your student regarding social media. You should encourage your student to utilize social media responsibly and consider what they post before they post it.
Lastly, remind your student that they can always come to you or a trusted adult if they need help navigating issues that arise on social media. It is critically important that your student create a positive image on social media for future colleges and/or employers.
If you would like to learn more about supporting your child on social media, please visit Common Sense Media’s website at www.commonsensemedia.org.
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