Do you know how your kids use social media?

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to write a piece about how kids use social media as it’s very much in the news at the moment. Barely a day goes by without some headline berating Facebook, Twitter or another online platform for not doing enough to protect kids.

The following, therefore, was written for us to meet that brief. The twist, however, is that it was written by a 12 year old. Quite literally, a first-hand account.

Any spelling and grammar mistakes, by the way, are entirely ours; his grasp of the English language is far better than ours by a long way!

Do you know how your kids use social media?

Parents often misconceive their child’s actions on social media.

General media tends to sensationalise any transgressions by young children on social media, because it creates a good headline or a catchy word-play that will get them tons of hits. This creates the perception that abusing social media is the norm. Essentially, we are judging the actions of the majority by the behaviour of the few.

Millennials are getting a bad rap.

So, what do your kids really do on social media?

Despite what you may have read, they’re not spending all day looking at inappropriate material and sending strange messages to their friends. They are most likely using social media to connect, to gain popularity or to gain more followers.

You see, social media has, over the years, transformed into a popularity competition for the newest generation. Now, children as young as five or six have their parents allowing them to have phones and use social media. The problem with this is that whenever they get a message, or a call, or a new follower, a chemical called dopamine releases and it is highly addictive.

This doesn’t just affect children though – it affects everyone. If you engage with your phone it releases this chemical. And this is the same chemical found in smoking, drinking and gambling.

Here are some of the apps that your children are probably using.

Instagram

Photo and video app to share media. Kids use it to usually see what their friends are doing, or what’s popular.

Snapchat

Another photo and video app, but the photos and videos disappear after a while. Kids use it to communicate.

Facebook

Most kids don’t use Facebook, but some do. They’d probably spend less time on it.

Tumblr

Social Networking app. More commonly found within teen’s phones. Most use it for fandoms, and common interests that they share with others.

WhatsApp

A messaging app, used to send pictures and emojis without costing money, like on Messenger.

Pinterest

‘Discover possibilities.’ Pinterest is a designer/lifestyle app.

Twitter

Social media service. Used to express opinions. Kids can send messages and images.

YouTube

Used to stream videos, can contain inappropriate content. YouTube has restrictions though, so Parental Controls are easy to enable, although you mainly won’t need them.

Whatever your fears are about social media and the way your children are using it, it’s probably not as bad as you think. Always remember that children know wrong from right, and they are sensible in their actions.