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Common Sense

the student newspaper site of Cedarburg High School, Cedarburg, Wisconsin

The student news site of Cedarburg High School

Common Sense

The student news site of Cedarburg High School

Common Sense

Social media use among young children is not healthy

A message for parents
Research has shown the use of scial media negatively impacts the social, mental and physical health of younger children.

Parents are faced with many challenging decisions when raising their children. Sometimes the right answer may not be clear. It seems like the age when children are allowed to use social media becomes younger and younger. In the interest of maintaining the social, mental and physical health of youth, younger children should not be allowed to use social media.

The use of social media negatively impacts the mental health of children in a variety of ways. According to Cleveland Health Clinic, teens who spend more than three hours a day on social media double their risk of depression and anxiety. The reason for this is that social media allows people to easily compare themselves to others. 

Technology allows children to view images of people which have been heavily edited. Child psychologist Kate Eshleman said, “However, we all, and especially young people, look at these pictures and admire the beauty. This results in likely comparing oneself to an artificial image, and distress can result if we feel we don’t measure up.” 

The Cleveland Health Clinic said 46% of teens aged 13-17 feel worse about their bodies after being on social media. Not only do artificial images worsen the state of children’s mental health, so do the algorithms of social media.

Social media feeds into the diagnoses of children. If the child is depressed, anxious or has ADHD, the algorithms will feed them into a deeper spiral. 

Dave Anderson, PhD, a senior psychologist in the ADHD and Behavior Disorders Center of the Child Mind Institute said, “Social media is built to feed you content you’re more and more interested in. If you have a kid who’s depressed, the algorithm will feed them content that aligns with their mood. If you’ve got a kid who’s anxious, the algorithm will feed them the content that aligns with their dominant emotional state. And if you’ve got a kid who has ADHD and is looking to be distracted, the algorithm will feed them distraction.”

People may see social media platforms as a way for their children to improve communication skills and get them to interact with others in a positive way. However, research shows that children are more likely to become involved in more risky and dangerous situations when they use social media.

The Cleveland Health Clinic said 64% of teens report being exposed to hate-based content. Cyberbullying is harder to walk away from because it can spread so far and so fast. Cyberbullying is almost inescapable because it is always there, unlike in-person bullying, which can be stopped if a person changes location and walks away from it. 

The internet has made it way easier for people to be creepy and get away with it. People using social media can be contacted by online predators and sent explicit content that could be scarring for a young child. According to Cleveland Health Clinic, 6 out of 10 girls were contacted by people that made them uncomfortable.

Lastly, dangerous trends can be widely spread on social media and children can be influenced to participate in them. For example, in 2012 the Cinnamon Challenge was popular. People recorded themselves consuming a spoonful of cinnamon. According to Children’s Minnesota, the Cinnamon Challenge can lead to inflammation, thickening of tissue and scarring in the lungs. These issues increase the risk of pneumonia, a collapsed lung and/or permanent lung damage. 

In 2018 there was another viral trend to consume the laundry detergent Tide Pods. Biting into Tide Pods can cause eye and throat irritation and in extreme cases of consuming the pod full of chemicals, children can die from this challenge.

Parents, you shouldn’t have to have lengthy discussions concerning whether your child should use social media at a young age. The answer is clear. Young children should not be allowed to use social media to ensure the safety of their social, mental and physical health.

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