Being a teenager is not a piece of cake: social media affect our children psychologically!

Today, children are using media to easily communicate with each other, amusing themselves or to have access to different sources of information. So, everything is cool, right? NOT EXACTLY!

CJ Dawley committed suicide at the age of 17 due to social media. “He stayed up until 3 a.m on Instagram messaging with others, sometimes swapping nude photos”, his mother said. He became sleep-deprived and obsessed with his body image. He was so addicted to it,  that even the last moment of his life was about posting on social media.

On January 4th 2015, CJ retreated into his room. He sent a text message to his best friend and posted an update on his Facebook page: “Who turned out the light?”. Then he held a 22-caliber rifle in one hand, his smartphone in the other and fatally shot himself.

His parents never knew that he was at risk of committing suicide because of social media. They filed lawsuits against some of the big social media companies like Facebook and Instagram. The story of CJ Dawley was published on the CNN website.

But still, that is only one example of many victims of social media.

Dealing with the dark side of social media is not a piece of cake! Letting a child do whatever it wants just because the parents have many irons at once is no option. In fact, all parents must become aware of what their children do with media.

Social media and its importance

Electronic media play an important role in our lives although they are mainly a source of entertainment for most people.

These media usually help people to understand the world better, but they must be aware of the fact that media could also destroy their well-being.

The dangers of electronic media are particularly high for young children. As the previous example shows, many parents are uneasy about the media’s impact on their children. Often they do not know who their children are in contact with, what sort of texts they read, and if they are falling prey to temptations such as online gambling and pornography.

“What is undeniably true is that the evidence suggests that rates of depression, self-harm and anxiety among young people are at unprecedented levels.” an expert said in an article by Tracy McVeigh published by the Guardian’s website.

The ubiquity of the internet and social media, with its dark underbelly of hard-core pornography, body shaming and cyberbullying, is encroaching on their wellbeing, while a relentless focus on academic high-achieving is turning up the pressure in the classroom.

Youth, traditionally thought of as the most enviable time of life, can now look like a deeply challenging and sometimes unpleasant time of life.

A study by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry showed that more than 6500 12-to-15-year-olds in the US found that those who spent more than three hours a day using social media might be at heightened risk for mental health problems.

As a consequence, they interact less with their family and friends, and children have problems to concentrate over longer periods of time.

But this was only for the teens who spend more than 3 hours online. “The real research”, an online survey app, launched a survey on teenagers using social media. This survey asks how many social media accounts teenagers have and which are their favorite social media platforms.  The survey on teenagers‘ use of social media asks the teens who must estimate the time, ‚how much time do teenagers spend on social media?’

In response, 38.16% feel teenagers spend more than 8 hours, and 13.39% responded by saying 7 to 8 hours. Meanwhile, 11.59% believe teens get 5 to 6 hours of social media time. That way, the won’t be able to concentrate over longer periods of time.

How to save children from the negative effects of social media

Taking the devices away from the children is not a solution. Kids must have serious conversations with their parents or with a trusted adult so they understand online risks.

Only talk to people you know and ensure that your online accounts are private, block people you don’t know or trust, and trust your instinct—if something makes you feel uncomfortable, tell a trusted adult about it.

It is also a responsibility of the governments and countries to contribute to teenagers having a bright future. Take this for instance: A small charity in London called “Then and Now” supports thousands of young people that suffered from depression, anxiety, self-harm, drug and alcohol misuse, eating disorders, psychosis etc.

On the whole, we must not forget to take care of the new generation. Young people have a great energy to change the world for the better and it is not right to let them suffer from their social media use.

By Hussain Setammuhamadalshamre