Research suggests that a child who is spends a lot of time on social media is not only shielded from the stress of personal interaction, but is also constantly being "rewarded". This reward comes in the form of a chemical called dopamine.
Certain behaviours cause dopamine to be released in the brain, and this makes us feel pleasure. Notice how good you feel after a good exercise session or accomplishing a goal. Dopamine has been released in your brain. This good feeling is something that we chase. It explains why substance such as alcohol and drugs are so addictive. It has now been found that spending time online, whether on social media or playing games has a similar addictive effect. When children associate online activities with pleasure, they are driven to seek it out more and more.
Given the fact that social media has now claimed a gripping influence on us, this article will explore the consequences this could have on your child, both the positive and the negative.
Connection despite distance
For children and adolescents who are trying to keep in touch with their loved ones who are geographically distant, social media could work as a link. This could be beneficial especially because children are forming their identities and personalities, and being able to stay connected reinforces the value of interpersonal bonds.
The new channel to learn
Interestingly, social media forms a base for exchanging information. Browsing through catchy titles and being able to conduct their own research for assignments can help seize the attention of a child.
Bubbling pot of enthusiasm
From moving public events to shared group interests, social media seems to have the power to mobilize enthusiasm. It's possible that the sea of ideas one watches inspires creativity and fuels passion.
Children who have spent increasing amounts of their time on social media have been found to develop traits of narcissism, aggression and attention-seeking behaviour.
It is a condition of having to hear or send off threatening and intimidating messages from behind the guard of virtual reality. Experiencing this, in the face of having an impressionable personality could increase risks of developing mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.
Embracing social media in its' most expansive form can place a child in danger of being victim to sexual predators, and other forms of advertisements that are developmentally inappropriate.
The time, energy, and efforts spent on interacting virtually could be preventing a child from spending time on real life interactions that help him/her learn social skills, experimentation and the aspect of risk-taking in relationships.
How you can help
Be a role model
You could work towards limiting your own usage of technology in front of your child. This could form an example that they base their own behaviours on. Apart from this, research suggests that having a few tech-free zones or tech-free hours at home could prove to be beneficial not just for your child, but also your family.
Be there more
Research studies have found that children who were addicted to the internet were more likely to term their parents as angry, disciplining, unloving and even over-protective. Be around and engage with your children in plenty of non-screen pursuits.
If you'd like to discuss this issue further, our counsellors would be happy to help.