Social Media and Internet Safety

Many children are growing up with the internet and social media, which can be an excellent resource for learning and engaging with the world. Even so, it can also pose some risks. As parents, it is essential to be aware of the internet and social media safety. We can help by providing valuable tips on protecting them and teaching them internet safety.

The Risks of Social Media and Internet Use

If media use isn’t carefully managed, problems can arise. About 1 in 4 adolescents are constantly connected to the internet and engage in activities on platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Throughout that time, they can be exposed to not-so-friendly content that impacts their well-being. Some of the problems they may face with internet use include:

  • Mental Health: Your child’s mental health is easily shaped by their environment. Social media and the internet can heavily influence their interactions with the real world and portray unrealistic information about their lives. It can affect their body image, reinforce harmful stereotypes, and cause feelings of insecurity over time if not taught and managed.
  • Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying occurs regularly on the internet, especially through popular gaming platforms and text channels. It often occurs because of the anonymity the internet provides people, lessening the impact their words and actions have on others.
  • Inappropriate Content: Inappropriate content can also occur on the internet, especially through promoted “child-friendly” content and online games. Most children, especially young children, won’t realize what they’re watching, which can harm their mental health.
  • Risky Behavior: Risky online activities, including violence and sexual activity, can present unrealistic ideas about how the world works. For children learning and growing, it isn’t easy to discern that the images seen on social media don’t reflect real life and can cause feelings of insecurity.

How To Connect With Your Child About Safe Internet and Social Media Use

By helping your child navigate the online space, you can make the internet a safe, engaging place for them to grow. Giving your children both limits and support can help them understand how the internet works and how to be responsible online. You can help your child through these struggles by promoting online safety and healthy social media use, including:

  • Parental Controls: Setting parental controls, especially for younger children and pre-teens, can help mitigate the effects of social media and help protect them from cyberbullying. Understanding the platforms they use can help further your ability to protect your child from inappropriate content and harmful material.
  • Teaching Media Literacy: Media literacy can empower your child to navigate the online world safely, help distinguish between right and wrong, and help teach them how to use social media. This includes learning about privacy settings and body image and practicing safety when communicating with others online.
  • Encourage Good Night Sleep: Social media and internet use can also impact their sleep-wake cycle, so taking the time to ensure they get at least eight to 10 hours of sleep a night can help them with their physical and mental health.
  • Engage with Empathy: Most of all, teach them empathy when talking with others online. Relationships can form quickly on the internet. Giving them a positive space to talk about their experiences and what they care about can help further your connection with your child and care for their well-being.

At Aeris Pediatrics, we are here to help you through all the challenges your child can face. Learning the basics of internet and social media safety can make monitoring their internet use easier and help them have an enriched environment with friends and family. To learn more, schedule an appointment with our team today.