Nowadays billions of people are involved in the use of social media, and children are no exception in this case. In this regard, numerous discussions among researchers and doctors are held concerning the possible effects of the usage of social media. Although there are some advantages of online social interaction, disadvantages for children outweigh any positive side of it. The current essay presents logical arguments using the latest academic researches to support the abovementioned thesis. In the first part of the paper, the statistics on the use of social media by children will be presented and briefly discussed. The second and the main part of the essay is devoted to the presentation and discussion of the research concerning the topic.
Before referring to the statistics on the children’s use of social media, it is important to define what is meant by “social media”. According to Cambridge Dictionary, a social network is “websites and computer programs that allow people to communicate and share information on the Internet using a computer or mobile phone” (“Cambridge Dictionary”). Thus, almost any website can be considered as social media, as people can interact with others even on a news website in commentaries. In today’s world, a larger number of children join social networks and use them on the daily basis. For instance, in the United States, more than 50% of children use some form of social network by the age of 12, and from the 13 years old onwards (teenage group) 80% reported having an account in a social media (Howard). These facts demonstrate that the children’s use of social media is extensive.
It is important to state that the use of social media by children involves a high number of risks that many parents are unaware of. According to the aforementioned statistics, people join social media at the age of 12, but children’s minds and psyche have not yet formed by this age and can be easily influenced negatively. The study of the American Academy of Pediatrics confirms this statement and warns parents about the negative sides of
the social media use such as: cyberbullying and online harassment; sexting; Facebook depression; privacy issues; influence of advertisements (O’Keeffee et al. 801-802). These issues can lead to severe mental illnesses, and even end in suicide. In the present essay several of the most widespread problems are considered.
One of the issues that is thoroughly addressed by scholars is cyberbullying which is broadly understood as simple bullying that occurs on the Internet (Englander et al. 149). Cyberbullying is something that can affect any child who uses social media, as it is a common issue on the Internet. The possible effects of cyberbullying are especially dangerous for children. Researchers report the following detrimental outcomes for psychological health: depression, anxiety, severe isolation, suicide (O’Keeffee et al. 801). It is vital to mention that the occurrence of these illnesses is not an isolated case. Many suicides caused by cyberbullying were reported in the United States. Moreover, social network bullying was “endemic” in Australia in 2012-2013 (Richards et al. 1153). This data show possible dangers for children involving in social networks.
Another possible negative effect on children using social media is so-called Facebook depression. Researchers define this kind of depression as “depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression” (O’Keeffee et al. 802). Consequences of offline depression are clear, and the same destructive behavior can be provoked by online depression. It should be mentioned that the social network overuse is especially detrimental for those children with unstable psyche. According to Richards et al., children prone to depression or any other psychological problems are at a greater risk of Facebook depression (1153). Thus, it can be concluded that it is vitally important that parents control the amount of time their children spend on social media interaction.
Third issue associated with the excessive use of social networks by children is a negative effect on self-esteem and well-being. The Richards et al’s study presents several research papers that examine the use of social networking sites and its negative effect on self-esteem of young people. For instance, several studies arrived at a conclusion that the more time young people spent in Facebook, the lower their self-esteem became. Moreover, studies demonstrated a link between the use of social media and body image concerns among teenage girls (Richards et al. 1153). The aforementioned studies’ conclusions do not speak in favor of social media for immature teenagers, as it can cause severe damage to their mental health.
Another danger connected with social media sites is inappropriate content, such as sexting. It is defined as “sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or images via cell phone, computer, or other digital devices” (O’Keefee et al. 802). Regardless the fact that social media sites are trying to prohibit inappropriate content, it is still a great issue on the Internet. Different studies have demonstrated that 20% of teenagers were involved in some kind of sexting (O’Keefee et al., 802). For some of them sexting led to emotional instability due to experienced blackmail.
Last but not least, is the issue of risky health behaviors that teenagers demonstrate in social media websites. Studies have shown that young people often exhibit such behavior, as illegal alcohol or drug use, self-injury and high-risk sexual behavior. The desire to show their actions to a wide audience can be detrimental or even fatal for their health. In addition, it should be mentioned that even though there are laws that restrict advertising of alcohol and tobacco for underage people, experts express high concerns about the effectiveness of these restrictions on the Internet (Chassiakos et al. 8). In today’s world the Internet consists of numerous websites with dangerous content, and parents are responsible to protect their children against it.
In conclusion, it should be said that despite the fact that social media communication can help developing different kind of social skills, the potential risks associated with its use definitely diminish its advantages. Social media can damage children’s psychological and physical health by causing low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, severe isolation, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and even suicide. The present essay has covered the most common problems associated with social media: cyberbullying, Facebook depression, low self-esteem, sexting and risky health behavior. However, it should be mentioned that these are not the only issues related to social media and children. Unfortunately, many parents are not aware of the abovementioned great risks their children face every day. The current paper has demonstrated why the children’s usage of social media is highly detrimental and needs to be under the strict adult’s control.
- Chassiakos et al. “Children and Adolescents and Digital Media.” Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016. Web,
- Englander et al. “Defining Cyberbullying.” Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2017. Web.
- Howard, Jacqueline. “What’s the Average Age When Kids Get a Social Media Account?” CNN, 2018. Web.
- O’Keefee et al. “The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families.” Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011. Web.
- Richards et al. “Impact of Social Media on The Health of Children and Young People.” Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health, 2015.
- “Social network”. Dictionary.cambridge.org. 2020.