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social media influence

The Impact of Social Media on Our Children

By May Abouhouli, LPC, Chapin & Russell Associates

ocial media such as Facebook, Twitter, Kik, Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, and Skype have attracted most of the new generation, many of whom have integrated these sites into their daily practices. Our children use these technological venues to support a wide range of their interests and practices. They use social media sites mostly to connect with pre-existing social networks and to build new ones, based on common interests; activities; political views; and racial, sexual, or religious identities. Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, compared the revolution in social media to the invention of the printing press and called it the epochal change, because of its influence on how our children communicate and connect. As parents, we need to accept the reality of social media and its impact on our children and we have the responsibility to ensure that it affects our children in a positive manner. Social media has been described as a double-edged sword, because it affects our childrens psychosocial development and identity formation in different ways. It offers a comfort venue to young people

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to be socially involved, especially if they experience shyness or social anxiety. Technology can be an outlet to our children to deal with their stressors through expressing their feelings and concerns. Furthermore, getting instant responses and messages provide them with social support from various friends. As far as education is concerned, it broadens their horizon, and allows them to acquire practical skills that are necessary for success in the 21st century. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there are multiple risks in using social media by our youth. AAP has reported that parents should be aware of risks associated with media usage such as: sexting, Internet addiction, Facebook depression, privacy concerns and digital footprint, and cyberbulling. Between accepting the new reality of social media in our childrens lives and dealing with its impact, whether it is positive or negative, on them, parents have an increased responsibility for media literacy to close the parents gap and disconnection between them and their children. The influence of technology on our youth can be controlled by how parents educate them about it and raise their awareness of the benefits and potential problems associated with media use. AAP suggested that supervising online activities through active participation and open communication is more effective than using software to remote monitor your childrens Internet usage. Also, it is important to join your childrens social network and learn about their friends, explore the YouTube videos they watch, and set time limits to their usage. No doubt by being informed; parents will be prepared for the various challenges the new digital world might bring to their homes. For more information go to or call 309-681-5850.
References: Pediatrics Volume 127, number 4, April 2011

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Page 48 Healthy Cells Magazine Peoria December 2013