Kids and social media
Chrisley Ann Hinayas (The Freeman) - December 11, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, among others, are becoming household names even kids are now hooked to social media and the fancy online world. Is your child one of them?

The list of social networking sites, online games, digital platforms seem to grow every single day that the kids often are more familiar with them than adults. Sometimes, parents would know something is becoming viral online from their kids, which is not surprising as the new generation are more attuned to the online world. Therein lies the danger, because kids are often ill-prepared to deal with the dangers.

But parents, are also partly to blame, since parents were the ones who provided their kids with the electronic gadgets that grant them online access.  Kids as young as six already have social media and online games accounts. And yes, they are accessing these sites more often, especially when parents are not monitoring them.

Parents cannot point an accusing finger at the kids, though. They can't create accounts or play when they don't have gadgets to use. The culprits are the adults or parents who think that by providing their kids with tablets, netbooks, laptops, and other gadgets, they are providing them happiness.

There are many researches, though, that connect a child's overwhelming use of gadgets-whether playing games or surfing or accessing social media-to the childhood behavioral disorder Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, whose symptoms include hyper-activity and difficulty in paying attention.

Also, according to, over 60 percent of 13 to 17 year old children have at least one profile in a social networking site, with many spending more than two hours per day on social networking sites.

Researchers likewise found out that more and more people, including teens and kids, socialize in the online world (even though there are supposedly age limitations in accessing social networking sites like Facebook). Indeed, there are serious downsides that parents need to look into about social media, which is why kids should be properly guided by their parents about online dangers and their usage of computers should be regularly monitored.

But while we read or hear so many negative things about online media, it cannot be denied that it has its many advantages, especially when used wisely. Social media is an avenue where youth and kids can participate in different activities like peer discussions, forums, and group projects.

Social media also establishes a platform where kids can share their interests in arts or music to others and also learn from them. Social media likewise helps kids develop and express their unique individual identity when online. Some shy kids, for example, become exuberant participants in online discussions and in so doing they learn to also open up and take part in face-to-face interactions.

Children advocacy groups like the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. Dolores Aboitiz Children's Fund, for example, believe that social media is an important tool for Early Child Care and Development if harnessed properly. Parents just need to be at the forefront in establishing guidelines in its use.

Here are some tips that parents need to know to guide them in imposing the right controls in their kids' online use and social media access:

Be informed. Knowledge is the best powerful tool to know whether right or wrong in a parent’s judgment. It is hard to tell kids to stop what they are doing when parents themselves do not know what they are talking about. Immerse oneself in the technology too, to know how to navigate through it.

What is Facebook? How does Facebook work? Who can be members of Facebook or Twitter? Know a little of everything about what social media has to offer and know what to say to the kids.

Lead by example. If parents are constantly online to chat with friends, kids would want to do the same, too. If parents wanted kids to limit their time online, why not start first? It is because what you, an adult, do is always right in the eyes of your child.

Know Your Child's Online Habits.  It's an advantage if parents know the many facets of the child's online life. It is best to know what kind of sites he is visiting or the people he is associating with. Get to know his friends or peers, not just those at school but also those in the online world.

Create Ground Rules. Kids know the use of cellphones, computers, tablets.They also understand what it would be like when denied of their use for not following the rules.  Parents can impose rules like "no social media use during school days" or "no access to gadgets every weekdays" for kids to understand that their online freedom is not absolute.

Talk to Your Kid. Parents should always have an open communication line with their kids so they turn to them, not to social media, when they are sad or lonely. To do this, parents should always have time for their kids, time that should be spent in making them feel they are loved. 


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