In the digital world we live in today, social media’s effect on children has exceeded that of schools and family gatherings. Social media’s reach has now widened to screens stuck to the hands and faces of children. Visualise a world where shares and likes are able to structure a child's moral values and political views and comprehend how this digital age is shaping the minds of generations to come, while we will probe deeper into the appealing and turbulent clash of social media with childhood.
The fascinating increase in children using social media lately compared to previous years can be attributed to several developments, the most significant of which is increased internet access and relaxed age restrictions. Social media platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram have lowered age restrictions, allowing users to create profiles at a younger age, providing children a space to create, share, and comment.
A demanding factor to contemplate while assessing the risks of social media is its impact on brain development in children and young adults. Between the ages of 10-19 a susceptible period of brain development is taking place. Notably, at ages 10-11, the initiation of risk-taking behavior begins, reaching its peak during this phase. This age is pivotal as it exposes individuals to the highs and lows of mental health challenges, including signs of depression. Furthermore, in early adolescence, the formation of identity and self-worth takes place, with brain development during this period contrasting with social pressures, peer opinions, and comparisons.
Frequent social media use may be linked to notable changes in the developing brain, especially in the amygdala, which is involved in the clarification of emotions like fear and stress. While the brain is developing the amygdala is very active, if children are exposed to cyberbullying or alarming content this may result in a range of emotional reactions, potentially leading to an overstimulated and heightened emotional response, as well as increased levels of stress and anxiety.
Simultaneously, the prefrontal cortex performs impulse control and moderates social behaviour, increasing its sensitivity to social rewards and disciplines. Additionally, it is also responsible for decision making and guides online actions, preventing impulsive behaviours. Children may encounter high emotional sensitivity in the communicative and integrative nature behind social media, leaving life with a little to no satisfaction in certain areas. The connection between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex is essential in understanding how social media can impact on a child’s brain development.
While social media is a powerful influence in children’s lives through which they encounter a diverse range of content and perspectives which may impact their development positively and negatively. On the one hand, exposure to a variety of viewpoints, communication channels, and educational opportunities can provide benefits to children. While on the other hand, harmful content, misinformation, and cyberbullying could negatively impact children.
The influence of politics on children through social media is complicated and may alter generally based on the child’s condition such as their age, parental guidance, and which platform they usually use. Parents play an essential role in reducing the negative effects of politics on social media and platforms as a whole that can harm a child’s emotional well-being, parents should provide more guidance and monitor the child’s online status/activity. It is crucial to align a balance that would allow children to engage with social media and political content while also ensuring their safety and their psychological well-being. The clash between social media and politics among children is a mixture that encourages and discourages components. Meanwhile, to a large extent it depends on the child’s online habits.
Even Though, YouTube has the highest percentage of usage in 2023 yet TikTok has attracted a large number of users since it launched in 2016. TikTok is known for its effortless way to create short videos and share them ranging from 15 seconds to a minute. Therefore, it has become a notable platform for its users to get entertained, to create, and a space for self-expression in the form of short videos. With 50 million daily users on TikTok, including individuals under 18, TikTok has become a producing ground for political engagement that the young generation has found itself dragged into. The concept of the application is that it offers a ‘For You Page’ and it exposes children to a variety of political content, which could control and have an effect on the child’s political awareness. As TikTok will continue to take part in the shaping of the digital age, it is crucial for guardians to navigate the right road for those children being exposed.
After the year of 2000 the classification of children has evolved to the title of the ‘digital natives’. While there are plenty of positive contributions of social media in the upbringing of children, concerns have been stated about the use of social media platforms as it’s a conduit for psychological and societal abuse. Children are engaging with online platforms as they encounter multiple societal challenges that may remarkably impact their societal interactions. The reinforcement of social media could lead to the complete isolation of children attached to social media, leaving them with limited exposure to the real world. Growing up in the digital age those children will have different norms of privacy in general, resulting in the lack of knowledge about their personal boundaries that could end up with severe harm (online predators). Putting those things aside, the ‘Fake’ absence of new generations will not be pleasing later on. They’ve been hiding in a nutshell and they suddenly have to appear to the world.
Sincerely from an impartial perspective, social media is notably affecting children today. Children are being exposed to unattainable ideal standards of looks, achievements, and fulfilment leading to a life without satisfaction. The perpetual comparison can lead a child to the feeling of self-worth leading to harmful psychological challenges. If you personally ask a child today what they’d like to be tomorrow the answer will be as simple as ‘’ i wish to be a content creator’’ because that is all that surrounds them. Moreover, social media has caused not only mental yet plenty of physical concerns. Primarily, to amend this dilemma individuals must adopt a complicated approach such as accelerating the age restriction on social platforms and making it challenging for those children to create profiles. Next, is parental involvement and including punishments would limit children from being dependent on social media. Parents have the ground, it starts by those parents giving up while the child is at a really young age and they simply just hand them the ‘saviour’ those saviours are electronics surprisingly they could easily end a temper tantrum and this is when the addiction begins. Further, technology companies and platform creators shed a greater responsibility on creating platforms that assist with the well-being of the youth users. Creating healthier online interactions and setting screen times. From an objective standpoint, With the implementation of those simple actions the adverse effect of social media on children will increase over time.
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“Daria Kuss.” Nottingham Trent University, August 18, 2022. https://www.ntu.ac.uk/staff-profiles/social-sciences/daria-kuss
“Brain Development in Pre-Teens and Teenagers.” Raising Children Network, April 23, 2021. https://raisingchildren.net.au/pre-teens/development/understanding-your-pre-teen/brain-development-teens#:~:text=The%20prefrontal%20cortex%20is%20the,brain%20continue%20into%20early%20adulthood
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