Social media: it’s everywhere. You can’t escape it! From Facebook to Twitter, Instagram to Snapchat and TikTok, there are new and interesting ways being invented to connect to other people from around the world. It’s the magic of modern technology, something most of us have seen develop in our lifetimes. We went from cordless phones to pocket pagers to the first cell phones and beyond. Now we have the internet in our pockets at all times.
At the same time, the world is much different today than when we were kids. Children are exposed to new and different experiences every day, and many of these experiences are filtered through the lens of social networking. As much as we want to give our kids the freedom to grow, we also have a responsibility to protect them from harm; this means we must be engaged when it comes to how social networking can impact a teen, for good and for ill.
Understanding The Dangers
Social networking is an incredible tool for broadening your teen’s horizons. It exposes them to new and interesting ways of life from around the world by showcasing how people live across the globe. It’s an excellent way to help raise a socially aware kid that understands there’s more to life than what exists in the halls of their high school.
There’s also plenty of dangers associated with social networking. It’s all too easy to engage in, or be targeted by, cyberbullying, for example, and there’s a strong case to be made for either limiting your teen’s access to social media or keeping a close eye on their interactions. Even the most level-headed teen can get caught up in some bad news online, so you’ll need to find the right balance between giving your kids enough freedom to grow while also keeping them safe.
Debunking Myths About Social Media
From cyberbullying to speaking to strangers on the internet, and who knows what else — there are lots of nightmare horror stories about social networking, and teens are especially susceptible. But a moderate and curated use of social media can be a positive force in the lives of teens in ways that might not have ever occurred to you.
You don’t need me to tell you how important socialization is to teenagers. Your teen needs social interaction to flourish, and in many ways, social networking enables this interaction that might not otherwise be available. Introverted teens or those struggling with developmental issues can have a hard time making friends in a high-stress, face-to-face environment, and social networking offers opportunities to still satisfy that socialization need in a lower-stakes environment.
Finding The Balance
Social networking isn’t perfect. There are many opportunities for a teen to follow down the wrong path and get involved in something they shouldn’t, though, studies suggest that the benefits of exposing your teen to different points of view and diverse ways of life more than balances this out. In the end, it’s up to us as parents to strike a good balance with how much social networking is right for them. Most importantly — may the force be with you.