With all the increased news coverage of kids running off with adults they met online, and kids dying by suicide supposedly due to online bullying, many parents are wondering if their worries about their kids being online are justified.
We hardly hear about how social media has benefited kids. There’s nothing inherent about electronic communications or electronic media that makes it bad for kids. There will always be bad people out there—online and offline.
An article on commonsensemedia.org lists multiple ways good things can come to kids who use social media.
- Makes friendships stronger. The site did a study called Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives. More than half the participants said that social media has benefited their friendships. Only four percent said it hurt them. And 29 percent reported social media made them feel more extroverted, while just five percent said it made them feel more introverted.
- Creates a sense of belonging. The article points out a study from Griffith University and the University of Queensland in Australia that concluded that teens today are less lonely than they were in past decades. The ease of being connected makes kids less isolated.
- Online community support. Online communities exist for just about everything, so that even the most geekiest, nerdiest outcast can find a group who accepts him or her. This includes support groups for kids whose parents are divorced and kids who are cutters.
- Expressing themselves. And this doesn’t just mean venting, but social media allows kids to put up their creative work and learn how to become more skilled.
Being helpful. Instead of thinking that social media is bad for kids, consider that kids can be good for social media. Think of how many opportunities exist for kids to do something good, to help a person out—by posting uplifting messages and artwork, to name a few ways.