The Child Trap

metformin to buy uk A trap has two defining characteristics. First, the prey has to be driven or lured into the trap, and second there must be no way out.

click Sadly, many of today’s parents are unknowingly allowing their children to be led into a trap.

click here According to various studies* today’s children spend about half the time outdoors than their parents did when they were young. Parents give different reasons for this (all very understandable), perhaps the most common being that they wish to protect their children from the dangers of playing outside: dangers from ‘stranger- danger’, drug dealers, gangs of older children, as well as the risk of accidents in the heavy traffic of our city streets. Other parents say that there is more for children to do indoors, such as watching television, playing games on electronic devices, and using social media**.

Should we be concerned about this? Increasingly it seems that we should be. A research report called Life in ‘Likes’ by the Children’s Commissioner for England*** indicates that children who use social media are “worried about their appearance and image … and anxious about switching off because of the constant demands of social media.” This is particularly true of students aged 8 to 12 who are transitioning from primary education into secondary schools. Children of this age grow dependent on receiving online ‘likes’ and comments as validation of their own self-worth. They feel social pressure to keep constantly connected to social media at the expense of other activities. Even when they are engaged in other activities many children tend to think about how it would look on social media!

flomax prices Here is a quotation from a year 10-year-old boy who took part in the Children’s Commissioner’s study:

“When you get 50 likes it makes you feel good cos you know people think you look good in that photo. I know that people like the look of me, it makes you feel that you are kind of popular ‘cause you got a high amount of likes”.

The problem is that when children don’t get those ‘likes’ their feeling of self-worth suffers, so they feel depressed and isolated. They are trapped. This is all too common, so what can we do about it?

Here are a few recommendations, broadly based on those mentioned in the Children’s Commissioner’s report:

  1. The owners of the social media platforms used by children should take effective measures to ensure that age appropriate safeguards are put in place for children. If they don’t do this, then our governments should take measures to regulate the social media platforms accordingly.
  2. Governments and schools should introduce compulsory digital literacy programs to help children develop digital literacy skills as well as resilience to the emotional and psychological problems caused by the use of social media.
  3. Governments and schools should educate parents about the positives and negatives of using social media, and how they might talk with their children about these things.
  4. Parents should monitor and if necessary limit the use that their children make of social media. The more informed parents are about the rewards and risks of social media, the more confident they will be in advising their children.
  5. Parents should consider not “sharenting” photographs of their children with friends on their own social media platforms. This is a common practice which many parents enjoy doing, but for youngsters it can be highly embarrassing.
  6. Whenever possible parents should allow and encourage their children to play outdoors with their friends. This is how children develop their imaginations and build healthy relationships with their peers.

I’ll finish with the words of an 11-year-old girl quoted in the Life in ‘Likes’ report. Judge for yourself whether you think this girl is trapped. Could it be your child?

“I saw a pretty girl and everything she has I want, my aim is to be like her. I want her stuff, her white house and her MAC makeup. Seeing her makes me feel cosy.”

Thank you.

*You’ll find many such studies on the internet.

**Some of the apps most used by children in the UK and elsewhere are Instagram, Snapchat (including its habit-forming streaks feature), WhatsApp, and Musical.ly

***Life in ‘Likes’, a report into social media use among 8-12 year olds. Children’s Commissioner for England, January 2018. Find this report at www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk  Follow the links from the home page. On page 37 you will find an informative list of the positives and negatives of social media use for children.

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