The risks in social networks: how to protect your children?
It is absurd to deny that there are many positive aspects about participation in social networks. Children and adolescents whose personality is shy may feel more comfortable initially behind their screens. Social networks can also connect people who have similarities, but are geographically separated, such as followers of a musical group or people who share the same ailment.
However, there are also risks. And they are much older than most parents think. Children and adolescents are threatened in social networks by external factors such as advertisers, "online predators" or cyberbullying.
In addition, there are internal threats as a result of the combination of the stage of development in which children find themselves with the super-glamorous and edited versions of life they see in social networks, with the permanence of the information published in Internet and with the pressure to live life in a public way.
Comparisons in social networks
Some children and adolescents develop symptoms of depression after spending too much time on social networks. This depression is linked to feeling unpopular, not getting enough "I like it"or not having enough" followers "and compare a real life with the dazzling images shared by others. It is understandable that this happens as children look to their peers for confirmation and reaffirmation of who they are and how they fit into this world. Having so much information available can make children and teens feel that they are not up to par with others.
Even the forms of harassment have changed with social networks. Aggressions become permanent. When someone is being harassed, a spectator or the aggressor himself can record the event, upload it to the Internet and share it on multiple platforms. An unlimited number of viewers can see and comment on the event. This creates a cascade of humiliation, cruelty and continued aggression without any consequences for the authors. Of course, this is devastating for the victim and makes them relive the event several times without hope that it will ever end.
Trust to protect children in social networks
The most important action we can take as parents to help our children stay safe in their use of social media is to create an open and honest home environment so that they feel they can come to us when they need help. We must forge a climate of confidence to encourage our children to talk with us in case they see something that makes them feel upset, scared, threatened or just do not know what to do.
Since children navigate a great virtual world while they lack life experience and are still maturing. It is normal that they encounter situations they are not sure of.
Although many times we do not understand the operation of the application that generates the problem, as parents, we have the experience, the love and the patience to help them find an adequate solution.
Deanna Marie Mason. Expert in education and family health. Author of the blog Dr. Deanna Marie Mason. Proactive fatherhood Professional support for the modern family. He has just released his second book: How to educate teenagers with values.