Anti-Social Media

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We all know that most kids and young adults these days are using social media of one kind or another (or all of them at once!) and as parents and potentially much less tech savvy adults this can be a pretty overwhelming fact. The pace of ever changing media platforms seems to be quickening all the time and if you’re anything like us here at The Minefield you may be either struggling to keep up or panicking about what lies ahead when your children are old enough to start exploring these avenues for themselves.

There is a lot to discuss under the umbrella of social media and the internet and we really want to hear from you about how you all manage the use of such things as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat in your home, as well as any (if any) restrictions or rules you place on the use of internet, mobiles and tablets for you kids. How do you deal with cyber bullying or teaching your kids appropriate online behaviours? How do you navigate the murky waters of the unfiltered content your kids have access too?

During our research we came across some interesting statistics produced by the PEW Research Centre in 2016. A survey done on parents of children 13 – 17 years old showed us that 61% of parents check what their kids are looking at or are posting online. 48% of parents monitored texts but only 39% used parental controls on the internet. Is it a losing battle against apps and technology specifically designed to hide what our kids are up to online?

Now more than ever it is extremely important to keep an open and honest dialogue with our children about online safety. Teaching them early on to be sensible and safe when using not only the internet but any smartphone or tablet can only help to keep the door open to conversations about dangers should they arise down the road. The PEW Research Centre survey also uncovered that 56% of parents in the study frequently discussed appropriate behaviours in school, home and within social lives but this did not extend to online behaviours so reassuringly. Only 36 % of parents were shown to be frequently discussing with their kids what is OK and what isn’t when consuming online content.

Using social media comes with it’s own unique set of positive outcomes and negative challenges for kids, teens and young adults.  A generation whose very fundamental method of widespread communication has become screen based reduces their ability to interact on a meaningful face-to-face level and creates a reliance on separation to buffer interaction. Without actual contact we are missing something actually very important to our physical and mental well-being and development, a LOL is not the same as a real life hearty laugh and has none of the health benefits or bonding experiences that come with it. Text lacks emotional connection, inflection and meaning are lost in translation as everyone sits in a room together staring at the small universe in their hands.

The anonymity allowed through the use of internet and social media also gives licence to be hurtful and discriminate without any real repercussions. There is a large disassociation with the effects your words have on others and the sheer numbers of people you can be saying it to. In turn the constant pressure to be sharing the supposedly most attractive and positive version of yourself and hiding away ‘the real’ flawed human you are has been proven to put your mental health at risk. The need to constantly construct a carefully curated self-image stops you from living in the moment and being your most free and authentic self.

Of course the concept of social media isn’t an inherently bad one and there is no reason to say that everyone using it will suffer its negative consequences. An active social media life can have many positive benefits too, keeping you in touch with distant friends and relatives all over the world and breaking the ice in new relationships. Through a wide range of sites and interactions you can access a broad spectrum of diversity and opinions which can serve to increase your perspectives, empathy and interests in a positive way. You can be aware and keep in touch with news and current affairs from all over the world and engage with them. And lastly let’s not forget all the cats, there’s a lot of cute cats!

But given this very wobbly tightrope we traverse across the world wide web how do we teach our children and teens to be good digital citizens? And how do we protect them from the darkest corners of the far reaches of the internet?

The Girl Guiding Attitudes Survey in 2015 reported that 82% of girls felt that adults don’t recognise the pressure young people are under today. Almost half of the girls aged 11-16 said they had experienced bullying via social media and 60% of girls aged 11 – 21 said they have seen their male peers viewing porn on mobile devices. 71% of them saying they feel strongly that porn gives confusing messages about sexual consent, and normalises aggression towards women and girls.

Fairly alarming statistics and enough to make parents want to hide under the duvet and pretend it’s not happening (or is that just us?!) but it’s our responsibility to help teach our kids how to walk the line along with us. Here at The Minefield we have started to get the ball rolling for you, we’ve spent some time researching some of the best resources we can find we have put together some hopefully helpful advice and conversation starters to aid you in your approach to these difficult discussions, and as usual we are keen for you to share your experiences with us so we can learn together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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