Is my child ready for social media?

By on March 11, 2016

For young people today, social media is an integral part of life. Parents accept this as part of their child’s life, but parents often struggle with questions such as what is the right age to allow my child access social media?

It can be hard for parents to know what to do, some believe social media is harmless and can only relate to it from the point of view of being an adult. What can make it harder still is when children come home from school saying that their friends are on social media sites and they are nearly the only one that is not in possession of a smartphone. No one wants their child to be the odd one out and yet giving children access to social media just so they fit in with others, really ignores the question of whether the child is ready for it.

If a child is not ready to handle social media, it can bring some hidden dangers and risks. These risks are not just to the child’s physical safety, there are risks to emotional well-being too.

Managing social media at a young age can be tricky and kids sometimes say things that they might not mean. The chance of this increases if they are with peers because of how the peer group impacts brain chemistry at that age.

There is a definite need to consider the question ‘Do children need to be prepared for social media ahead of time?’

Young people are only beginning the stage of psychological development known as identity formation around the time when adolescence begins. During this phase they use the feed-back they get from others, particularly peers, in order to work out their sense of worth.

This brings its own set of challenges for young people on social media but often, children even younger than thirteen are accessing social media sites too. They are at an even more immature stage of mind development.

Before young people begin adolescence, the developmental stage children are in requires them to work out social rules and how they fit in with those around them.

In primary school, getting on with others in the school yard matters a great deal. It give children a real sense of accomplishment and instils confidence, knowing that they are well-liked by others.

So the very important question, worth asking is – Is it a good idea for them to be interacting on social media while they are dealing with this developmental stage? We need to start a new discussion about social media and how we can support young people around their use of it. We need to change the conversation because the world has changed.

How will you know if your child is ready for social media?

For more information on this topic, free resources are available on my website: www.annemccormack.ie

Psychotherapist- skerries-north dublin

About Anne McCormack

Anne McCormack is a Psychotherapist and writer living in Dublin, Ireland. Anne is passionate about adolescent mental health. Her first book on preparing young people for social media is due to be published this year. To sign up for more information from Anne on the topic of young people and social media, go to www.annemccormack.ie and follow Anne on Twitter @therapybits!

 

 

Photo via VisualHunt


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