With the proliferation of social media platforms, concern about their impact on children’s safety, self-esteem, and confidence has grown. In today’s issue, we bring to your attention several facts and interesting tips for keeping your child safe, as well as improving your ability to address cyber safety concerns in a helpful and effective way. For example, recent studies have found that:
- A study (Feinstein et al., 2014) conducted in Psychology of Popular Media Culture found that in the context of social networking, negatively comparing oneself with others may place individuals at risk for rumination and, in turn, depressive symptoms. A study (Vogel et al., 2014) conducted at the University of Toledo found similar results while examining the relationship between social media-based social comparison and low self-esteem.
- In a study (Kalpidou, Costin, & Morris, 2011) published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking examining Facebook specifically, researchers found that a higher number of Facebook friends was negatively associated with emotional and academic adjustment. The authors suggest one’s number of Facebook friends can potentially hinder academic adjustment, and spending a lot of time on Facebook can be related to student’s lower self-esteem concerning academics and social behaviors.
- One particularly unique phenomenon relating to a more recent social media platform is the discovery of “Tiktok Tics.” Similar to tics found in other psychological disorders such as Tourette’s Syndrome, doctors begun to notice an increase in similar tics, which was particularly concerning as Tourette syndrome tics are usually unique to each person. As researchers would later find out, these tics could be linked to a number of popular content creators on TikTok — often individuals with Tourette syndrome whose videos have been viewed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of times. Studies suggest that these children and adolescents are experiencing a movement disorder brought on by stress and anxiety — presumably made worse by the COVID pandemic and increased social media consumption. You can read more about “Tiktok Tics” below:
The following are some important statistics to consider when considering child and adolescent social media usage (Petrov, 2022):
- Only 38% of cyberbullying victims are willing to admit it to their parents.
- 34% of kids in the US have experienced cyberbullying at least once.
- Cyberbullying victims are 1.9 times more likely to commit suicide.
- 210 out of 1000 victims of bullying are high school girls with different skin color.
- 68% of children that have gone through online harassment have experienced mental health issues.
- 42% of LGBT youth have experienced cyberbullying.
- 33% of teenagers have sent explicit images or text to someone else at least once.
- 66% of female victims have feelings of powerlessness because of cyberbullying.
This can indeed be considered an under-represented pandemic in schools, and it is important we understand these dangers and obtain the tools to address some of these issues. Below are some tips and resources to address and adjust social media behavior:
- Practical Tips to Limit Social Media Time
- Deleting Social Media apps from your phone: Deleting your most utilized apps, even for just a day or two, may help you realize that the compulsion to check these apps is more of a ritual than a necessary part of your day.
- Moving around Social Media apps: If deleting these apps completely is too much at the moment, try moving them around on your phone to a “less visible” section. Just moving your most used apps around may lead to an extra second of mindfulness on whether or not it is a good idea to engage with social media at the moment.
- Have some “phone free” time: Having a phone-free dinner, picking up and engaging more in a hobby that does not involve phone time, or even just starting with an hour a day where you are not using your phone, can increase self-efficacy and self-esteem linked to social media and phone usage.
- Utilize the “weekly screentime report”: Many phones now have a “weekly screentime” function, which shows our average daily usage, how much time we spend on each app, and even allows us to schedule “downtime” if necessary. Taking a deeper dive into what your phone activity actually looks like can be immensely helpful in understanding our online and social media behavior.
- Child Online Safety Resources
- OnGuardOnline: This site, created by the Federal Trade Commission, has information for parents as well as games and videos for kids and teens.
- NetSmartz.org: This site, created by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, has videos that are geared toward different age ranges, as well as videos and information for parents.
- WiredSafety: WiredSafety has lots of information about online safety that parents and educators can use.
- StaySafeOnline.org: This site has resources to help you teach online safety to kids and adults, as well as general online safety articles.
- Family Online Safety Institute: This site has a printable Family Online Safety Contract, as well as other tips and resources for parents.
- A Platform for Good: This site, created by the Family Online Safety Institute, includes information for parents, teachers, and teens.
- Microsoft Online Safety Information: This page offers Internet safety guidelines for families, schools, and organizations.
- Parents’ Guide to Blogging Safety: This article talks about the risks and benefits of children starting their own blogs, with tips for blogging safely.
With this article, we hope to bring awareness to the extremes that may exist on social media, and attempt to have some element of control in the quality and quantity of content we view online. We hope that this has helped to shed light on these issues, as well as provide practical alternatives to our often-over-indulgent online lives. Lastly, the irony is not lost on us that you have come to this article via the internet, and we have various social media buttons listed above and below. While we do hope that you share this article online if someone is in need, let’s also try to use this opportunity to note how much time you’ve spent online today, and perhaps reach out to a loved one in reality to share what you learned, and whether we can use some change in our online habits. We at STEPS will be doing so as well!
Feinstein, B. A., Hershenberg, R., Bhatia, V., Latack, J. A., Meuwly, N., & Davila, J.(2013). Negative social comparison on Facebook and depressive symptoms: Rumination as a mechanism. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2, 161–170.
Kalpidou, M., Costin, D., & Morris, J. (2011). The relationship between Facebook and thewell-being of undergraduate college students. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14, 183– 189.
Petrov, C. (2022). 50 alarming cyberbullying statistics for 2022. Techjury. Retrieved April 9, 2022, from https://techjury.net/blog/cyberbullying-statistics/#:~:text=%20The%20following%20cyberbullying%20stats%20may%20cause%20you,high%20school%20girls%20with%20different%20skin…%20More%20
Rutledge, C. M., Gillmor, K. L., & Gillen, M. M. (2013). Does this profile picture make me look fat? Facebook and body image in college students. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2, 251– 258.
Vogel, E. A., Rose, J. P., Roberts, L. R., & Eckles, K. (2014). Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem. Psychology of Popular Media Culture., 3(4), 206-222. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000047