Gone are the days when kids were freely running, playing outside breathing in fresh air and bathing in the goodness of the sunlight. Today the situation is completely different. Children sit glued to computer screens for long hours playing video games, and when they are old enough, they spend most of the time on social media platforms.
This case fits especially for kids growing in the cities. As parents, it becomes our topmost priority to watch our kids’ activities in the online world.
Recent research studies show some disturbing trends developing within the selfie generation. University of Birmingham researchers carried a parent poll, and most of the parents felt ‘concerned’ or ‘extremely concerned’ about the negative and potentially harmful impact of the social media. The parents named anger and hostility as the most negative trait, followed by arrogance, ignorance, bad judgment and hatred. Only 15% of the parents thought that popular social media sites such as the Facebook provided a positive influence on their kids’ character.
In a first of its kind study, teenagers’ brains were scanned while using social media. Scientists found that the brain circuit that gets activated when eating chocolates and winning money are activated is the same that springs back to life when teenagers see a large number of likes on their photos. Researchers say that teenagers are influenced by their online friends even if they barely know them. Now a new trend has begun among the youth, which is the ‘You-Tubing.’ The kids make their YouTube videos and upload them. They spend a lot of their time to gain new subscribers which drastically affects their studies, performance in school and behavior.
Most kids have working parents, and spend all their free time on these social media sites which is a disturbing aspect. American Academy of Pediatrics says that online engagement increases the risks of cyber bullying, ‘Facebook depression’ (a new phenomenon where unfriending and online bullying leads to symptoms of depression) and exposure to inappropriate content.
So how would you deal with the new threat rising among the selfie generation? Never allow ‘underage Facebooking’ in your house. You must have the ultimate say in your children’s online activities. Check that your privacy settings for the Internet and Facebook are set to the strictest levels. Use filtering software such as ‘Net Nanny’ and ‘PureSight PC.’ This software lets you monitor social media sites, filter content, block chats and much more. ‘My Mobile Watchdog’ allows you to monitor your child’s cell phone.
If your kids are old enough to handle computers on their own, then set clear ground rules. Have an open discussion and if possible make a contract and ask all the parties to sign. Be clear with the punishment if the rules are broken. One of the contract rules can be that you have full access to your kids’ Facebook friends and can take a look whenever you wish.
Be aware of the sites your kid is frequenting and the people he is associating with. Don’t allow your kids to play violent games and limit their viewing time because it might affect their behavior. Teenage is a critical age that forms the foundation for a successful adulthood. Keep the computer at a central location in your house. When your computer is located in a high traffic zone, it becomes much easier to keep the tabs on any online activity.
Advise your kids to keep away from answering questionnaires, contests and free giveaways. Many of them aim to glean personal information from your kids. Keep an eye on the kind of pictures your kids post online. Limit their cell phone usage and teach them about the necessity of maintaining a good online reputation. Inform and educate your kids about the prevalent online dangers.
Nowadays kids are far more advanced in technology. You must take the time to learn about the new technology yourself. Though all of this might sound hard, with prayer, patience and practice you will do a great job.
Swarnam John is an experienced health and wellness writer. She writes the blog healthyhomosapien. She is also a contributor to a couple of prestigous online magazines.