Why Too Much Social Media Is Harmful For Middle School Kids
The brains of preteens and early teens are still in development and can’t handle all the information that is absorbed through social media. If you have a kid of your own that’s in middle school, you know that weird things are happening in their brain during this period.
Their main priorities in life are something along this way:
Fun and popularity above anything else – they’ll do silly things they think will make them more popular and funny around their friends.
Nobody else matters but them – they pay extra attention to how they look. Every little detail matters.
Experimenting with new things – they change their identity until they find out whatever suits them the most. They can be impulsive, and moody at the same time until they discover their independence.
Parents are going through a change too with their kids at this age. If you’ve thought that your kid would never do something, everything might turn out to be quite the opposite now. You’ll notice that the things that you say to them changed from ‘let’s do your homework’ or ‘you should eat this it’s healthy for you’ to ‘Stop throwing things and yelling yet!’, ‘what were you thinking?’ ‘Stop swearing!’
Then, everything goes south when they start asking you to get them a phone. You try not to give in but in the end, you realize that you don’t want your child to be weird cause everyone else has a phone, and you give them your old phone.
The phone is their gateway to all the social media and all the information that nobody is prepared for. Because the brain at that time is still in development it’s a really bad time for them to have access to all that information. And here are some reasons why that is so:
1. Social media isn’t designed for preteens
The underdeveloped tween brain isn’t ready for all the temptations and distractions from social media. So even though you might give some advice to your preteens on how to be responsible around social media, they still lack the maturity and life experience for it.
2. It’s only entertainment
Social media won’t make your kid smarter or more ready for their future job. It is not necessary for normal social development of the child too. It’s just entertainment and a marketing platform that wastes so many hours of your kid’s free time and attention.
3. The tween’s mind has no limits
They have a ‘more is better’ attitude towards everything in life and they tend to overdo things which can be harmful in terms of social media. They don’t need so many friends on social media but it not only allows those numbers, it encourages it.
4. Social media can cause addiction
Although it may seem harmless, social media can be a set up for some other addicting habits in the future.
5. Social media doesn’t help in learning social skills like dealing face to face with other people
Interpersonal skills like face to face communication is a really important skill for a successful life.
6. Social media can cause a teen to distance themselves from their families and the real values
The need for the teen to have attachments to the family is very important because that cognitive part of the brain is still in development so make sure to make them feel like an important part of the family too.
7. Excessive use of social media may be a loss of potential in teens
There are some benefits for sure in using social media for teens, but the downsides are far more overweighing the positive ones. The brain at their age is working at its peak performance so wasting their time in scrolling through social media is just a lost time that’s better spent doing any other activity.
How can we help our children just slow things down?
Firstly, we need to think about what we’re allowing our children to do, and we need to realize that teens use social media much more differently than us, adults so here are some tips that might help parents that have kids that spend too much time on social media:
1. Delay them the access as much as possible
The older they are the better. That means there will be more time for the brain to develop and to mature to a point when they will be able to make wise decisions on social media. It also gives more time to develop a better parent-child relationship in the meantime.
2. Follow their activity
There is no privacy on social media. In this digital age we’re living, privacy is almost non-existent, and that’s why the kid’s social media activity should be available to their parents. There are different privacy settings on every platform but they just give a false sense of privacy. Encourage your kids to engage in face to face conversations instead of doing it via text.
3. Make an account for the whole family
Make a family account that will allow the kids to contact their friends more safely.
4. Only allow the use of social media on larger screens
Allow your kids to use social media only on big screens in front of all the family. This will make them use it less often. If they have access to it on their small phone screens, they can hide them in their pockets at any time which will encourage more secrets. And more secrets lead to more potentially bad choices by them.
5. Keep track of the time they spend on social media because they won’t
You need to have a clear idea of how much time your teen spends on social media daily, and reduce it as much as possible. The average time that a teen spends on social media is around 9 hours every day. Make sure to set a timetable for when your kid can have access to social media and for how long they can stay on it.
6. Arrange a face to face meetings with their friends
They certainly don’t need a thousand friends in real life. Around half a dozen close friends are perfectly enough for normal social development. Give them some ideas of normal technology-free gatherings where they can go bowling, watch a movie, cook something, have a bonfire party or something similar that will take their young minds off of social media and more on social interaction.
7. Spend technology-free time with them
Research has shown that teens that are more closely attached to their close family are generally happier and show more success in life.
Even though they might think they’re independent, they need parents now most than ever. They can easily detach themselves from the family by getting into all the social media drama that’s happening all the time. They need to feel that the time they spend with their family will be free from all their social drama and make them connect emotionally with their close ones. They need these peaceful moments at home even though sometimes they’re not even aware of it.
Remember that smartphones don’t have power over you and your family. Help your teens find healthier ways to entertain themselves and they will lead a healthier life overall.
Source: Psychology Today