Social Media and Its Role on Children and Adolescents

February 17, 2022

By Kasey Cain, Licensed Professional CounselorSocial Media Use and Children

Social media and relationships is a hot topic. As someone who didn’t get her first email address until college, I often have difficulty truly understanding the role social media plays in the lives of our children and adolescents. They have never lived in a world without technology and therefore are innately more inclined to feel comfortable in using technology and social media. I sometimes think that because of many adults’ lack of comfort or understanding, social media gets vilified. Yes, there are stories after stories about the dangers of social media but with all things, there is always another side. Social media can also allow for access to resources, information, and relationships.

To determine if I, or my clients, are using social media in a helpful or harmful way I like to stick with the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions.

  • WHO:

    • Who are they communicating with? Social media can be used to connect with friends and family both near and far. In particular, over the past few years, while we have had to isolate ourselves, social media has provided an opportunity to connect with others, build and maintain relationships, and combat isolation and loneliness.
  • WHAT:

    • What type of content are children/teens accessing? Do they have the skills to determine if it is factual or fabricated information? What things are being shared? What can I observe in my child’s behavior before, during, and after they engage on social media?
  • WHEN:

    • When are they using social media? If it is during math class there may be a problem, but if it is during a snow day and they are chatting with friends or posting videos of sledding then it is fun and rewarding. Also, is your child up all night long watching videos or chatting? If yes, a conversation about healthy limits might be needed. Sleep is important and if health is being comprised then rules may need to be established around acceptable use.
  • WHERE:

    • Where are children when they are using social media? Are they supervised? Is it an appropriate time to be on a phone, tablet, or computer?
  • WHY:

    • Why does your child want/need to be using a particular social media app? Does it promote creativity? Does it allow for connections and opportunities they might otherwise be missing? Also, why might you be having concerns about your child’s social media use? Are you noticing something troubling? Are you, like me, uncomfortable with what you don’t truly understand?
  • HOW:

    • How do you monitor your child/teen’s social media use? Have you set up expectations around use? Do you check in with them to see how things are going? Have you created an atmosphere of mutual trust so your child knows they can come to you if they are upset or concerned over something happening online?

I know that is a lot of questions! I promise they are worthwhile to consider. Take time to learn about the most current social medial outlets and most importantly, talk to your child/teen!

Until next time, Be Wise!