The risks of social media are real, from sexting to cyberbullying to acute FOMO (fear of missing out), but new research is shedding light on the benefits of kids connecting, sharing, and learning online. As a parent, you can help foster the positive aspects by accepting that social media is a real part of your children’s lives and encouraging them to use it in meaningful ways. For inspiration, here are some of the advantages of your kid being social media-savvy:
· It strengthens friendships. According to Common Sense’s study Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives, 52 percent of teens who use social media say it’s helped their friendships, whereas only 4 percent say it has mainly hurt them.
· It offers a sense of belonging. A study conducted by Griffith University and the University of Queensland in Australia found that American teens feel less isolated and have become more socially adept, partly due to an increase in technology use.
· It provides genuine support. Online acceptance – whether kids have interests that aren’t “cool” or are grappling with sexual identity – can validate a marginalized teen. Check out this inspirational story about a Minecraft community on Reddit using voice-conferencing software to talk a teen out of his decision to commit suicide.
· It helps them express themselves. Digital technology allows kids to share their work with a wider audience, receive essential feedback, and even collaborate with people they normally wouldn’t be able to.
· It lets them do good. Twitter, Facebook, and other large social networks expose kids to important issues and people from all over the world, giving them a voice they didn’t have before.
Today we are officially launching Common Sense Kids Action, an independent, nonpartisan, powerful voice for America’s next generation. Learn how we are making kids and education our nation’s top priority, and sign up as an advocate.