The sad truth is that even at the youngest age, children are avid users of social media and the Internet. In the following article, we will discuss the unwanted negative effects that social media has on our children’s health and wellbeing, so that you, as a parent can rethink some house rules when it comes to your children and their access to the internet.
How does social media affect your child’s well-being and health?
Let’s look at some statistical data from the year 2017 before we proceed with the effects that social media has on little children and teenagers.
- It has been estimated that 1% of the children age 3-4 have their own mobile device. They use their mobile or tablet to watch cartoons and play games, and it is estimated that they do not own a social media profile at such an age.
- At age 5-7, 5% of the children own their own mobile phone and 35% own a tablet. A surprising 3% of the children at this age already have their own social media profile.
- Moving to age 8-11, 39% of the children have their own mobile device and 52% have their own tablet, of which 23% of the children use in order to visit their own social media profiles.
- Reaching to age 12-15, 83% of the children own a mobile phone which 74% of them use to visit their social media profiles, watch YouTube videos and cartoons.
It is sad but true, that more and more parents try to replace love, support and time spend with their children by offering their children access to the internet which in most cases, at such an early age, results in more negative than positive effects. Now let’s discuss the possible negative effects that are expected to occur as a result of the negative impact of social media.
- The most common negative effect that social media has on children and teenagers is the addiction that it creates. Do not be surprised when you see your child spending more time glued to its phone instead of communicating with you or the other people around it. But children are not the only ones who are addicted to social media. Teenagers, even adults are exposed to the risk of getting addicted to social media. Like any other addiction, social media addiction as well causes disruptions in the everyday life of the individual. Things such as doing sports, homework, school, and anything that adds to the productive life of your child are affected and negatively impacted due to social media addiction.
- Negative effects are impacted on your child’s general health as well. Sleep problems and eating problems are to be expected as well. Most children and teenagers tend to stay late up in the night, surfing online. This prevents them from getting up early for school and other activities that normally fulfill their days. Using their mobile phones, tablets, and computers at the table during lunch and dinner does not help as well. Children are usually more interested to see what is on their social media profile rather than to eat what has been served in front of them.
- Self-confidence problems can develop as a result of the excessive use of social media. When children and teenagers spend their days scrolling and looking through pictures of models and their great looking bodies, they create a certain amount of pressure on themselves to look the same way, not understanding the risks that come with such a decision. Eating disorders, depression, and anxiety are the three most common mental health issues that develop as a result in most cases, even at such a young age. It has been estimated that depression affects 2% of prepubertal children and 5-8% of adolescents worldwide. On the other hand, according to the National Institute of Mental health, 2.2 million adolescents are expected to suffer from bulimia, anorexia or binge eating at some point in their lives.
- The suicide rates among children and especially adolescents are rising, unfortunately. In most cases, suicide among children and teenagers happens as a result of cyber bullying and sexual abuse. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, 43% of children and adolescents have been exposed to some kind of cyber bullying. In most cases, parents are confident that their child is not by any mean exposed to cyber bullying when there is a totally different scenario going on. Also, in most cases, the parents are the last to know of any type of bullying and that is usually when their child has attempted or, sadly successfully performed suicide.
It is sad but unbelievable true how much do social media and the Internet affect our children, in most cases in a negative way. And what is, even more, sadder is that most parents are not aware of that and let it happen in front of their own eyes. From depression, anxiety, eating disorders to sleep problems and low self-confidence, the problems that develop due to the negative impact of being exposed to social media at such a young age are more than we can actually count. In conclusion, we alert each and every parent to rethink their child’s freedom to surf the Internet and expose itself to the various negative aspects and effects. Instead, we call every parent to spend more time face-to-face with his or her child, engaging actively in his/her life, instead of having to find out about it by reading online.