The influence of social media can negatively impact child development. Use of social media networks exposes young children and teens to violence, vulgar language, and inappropriate content. One must consider the influence of such media devices and the effect they they have on children’s overall well-being. Digital technology may affect social and emotional development because children are losing the ability to communicate effectively face-to face. Parental relationships are often replaced by those of peer groups. With the increase in technological advances, children today need additional support due to the pressures of an ever changing modern society (Taylor, 2013). The network of friendships have changed due to technological advancements and have evolved into social relationships, some built entirely online (using a multitude of media devices like laptops, cell phones, tablets, etc.). Ever increasing technology and its potentially harmful effects on children and teens is alarming (Strasburger, Hogan, and Mulligan, 2013).
Screen time, whether it is television usage, online gaming or social media, SMTs are allowing children to connect daily (often from their bedrooms), to internet-connected sites that may not be appropriate for children. Who is in control in the home? Parents need to …establish a family home use plan for all media (Onlinelibrary.wiley.com, 2018).The ramifications of this distancing are profound. Less connection ”the real kind” means that families aren’t able to build relationships as strong as they could be nor are they able to maintain them as well. As a result, children will feel less familiarity, comfort, trust, security, and, most importantly, love from their parents. There is also less sharing which means that parents know less about what is going on in their children’s lives and, consequently, have less ability to exert influence over them. Parents are also less able to not only offer appropriate supervision and guidance, but, at a more basic level, they are less able to model healthy behavior, share positive values, and send good messages to their children (Huff Post, 2013).Social media, television, and video games are powerful influences and present many risks to our children. The rapid expansion of gaming systems and social media are pushing aside traditionals forms of interpersonal communication. Children and teens are no longer communicating one-on-one, but through social media devices, discouraging personal connectivity to one another.
In turn, self esteem may suffer in adolescents and teens due to the ways they are acquiring their daily information and news (Ahn, 2011, p. 1438-1440). Critical to all children is identity development, quality friendships and relationships, and proper affiliation with peers (Shapiro and Margolin, 2013). The gaming industry is big business and has a lock on children and young adults growing up this technologically wired world. There should be an outcry from the general public about how these gaming and social media sites are harming adolescent psychosocial development and affecting interpersonal relationships. Generally, most sites encourage keeping in touch with friends, setting up plans, and meeting to meet new friends, just like traditional methods of forming relationships. Today, however, the ways that adolescents communicate with each other is not personal interaction, but instead through social networking. Hiding behind the screens, many never meeting face-to-face. All children want to feel accepted and appreciated, but unfortunately, some are gaining that acceptance in some dangerous online forums (chat rooms, email, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat). In many cases, SMT (Social Media Technologies), can cause depression due to suppressed emotions and limited face-to-face social contact and interaction with peers and adults (Best et.al., 2014).
Finally, what will lasting effect of social media technology on adolescent development? Further research is required in this area and additional studies will be conducted to determine the impact of social media technologies and its impact on child development. It is a complicated subject; the way social media is negatively transforming children’s lives. Constant bombardment and an over stimulation of media devices is keeping young children and teens socially connected on a daily basis. Radesky, Schumacher, and Zuckerman (2015) found that technology is not purposely trying to make children act out aggressively or ruin relationships with peers and parents, but the research proves that social media technologies are doing more harm than good.
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