Is it worth it to keep your tweens and teens away from social media?

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In a world that has become obsessed with likes and followers, is your child’s strong enough to handle the psychological effects of social media. 

Netflix has released a short documentary titled The Social Dilemma. This is a collection of former senior and executive employees of major social media platforms like Facebook and some inventors of the functionalities of social media. 

They detail the terrible psychological effects of using the internet, and the curation of the content to suit your interests. 

Also Read: Do you know the age restrictions for the different social media platforms your kids are on?

What was particularly interesting in the film was the effects social media has on pre-teens and teenagers alike. 

According to Facebook’s former VP of Growth Chemath Paliyapitiya: “We curate our lives around the perceived sense of perfection because we get rewarded in the short-term signals – hearts, likes, thumbs up and we conflate that with value, and we conflate it with the truth. 

“And instead what it really is is fake, brittle popularity that is short terms and that leaves you even more vacant and empty before you did it.”

Social psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt notes that depression and anxiety in American teens have increased since 2011. 

Between 2009 and 2011, the number of girls that are hospitalised due to self-harm has increased: 

  • 62% for girls between 15-19 years old
  • 189% for girls between 10-14 years old

Suicide rates amongst these girls have also increased:

  • 70% for girls between 15-19 years old
  • 151% for girls between 10-14 years old

Cyberbullying is a known fact among young kids on social media. 

Also Read: Protecting your child from the dangers of social media, including suicide

According to researcher Seok Hyun Gwon, young children “are impressionable to a range of social and physical environmental factors”. This means that they can fall for anything. South Africa has seen cases of teenage girls taking their lives after being bullied on social media. 

This is why it is imperative for parents to have crucial conversations with their children regarding social media usage, and help them manage it as much as possible. 

No parent wants to lose a child because someone said their ears are too big on their Facebook wall. 

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