Parents in this digital age have the added responsibility of being mindful of the content their child is consuming, as a significant amount of it is “no-brainer content” which is found to have an effect on the intelligence quotient of children. Navigating and maneuvering together could be one of the ways parents can tackle it without having to fight with their child.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Seema Rekha, Managing Director of Antarmanh Management Consultancy, suggested, “Parents can have an open dialogue with their child about social media usage, understand their motivations and demands, and set boundaries with them. This will make them part of the decision and they will be more likely to follow it than if it felt enforced. In addition to a dialogue, planning and instilling learning activities for them off-device can help them maintain this balance. It might be more exciting for the child if it’s an inclusive activity, that is, if everyone participates. This can also be done in conjunction with family time. It is no hidden fact that protecting children from social media has become imperative, but it is equally imperative to be part of their fight rather than cutting them off.
Dr. Suprakash Chaudhury, Professor and HOD, Department of Psychiatry at Dr. DY Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre, said: “The use of social media can have both positive and negative effects on people, in especially children. Children can be particularly vulnerable to mishaps. /misinformation because their maturity and cognitive abilities are still evolving, including the development of “different psychological and physiological motivations, and with them, different rights and protections”.
A UNICEF survey in 10 countries highlights gaps in how young people assess information online: up to three-quarters of children said they felt unable to judge the veracity of information they encountered online. line, and this was especially true for young children. Effects range from sensory overload to more serious cognitive and emotional consequences such as attention problems, stress and anxiety.
Dr Suprakash Chaudhury said: “Social media negatively affects behavior by depriving children of important social cues that they would typically learn through face-to-face communication. This can make them more insensitive, anxious and insecure. Heavy social media users score lower on cognitive tests, especially those that examine their attentiveness and ability to multitask. Compared to moderate to light social media users, heavy users have to work harder to stay focused in the face of distraction. Higher frequency of Internet use over 3 years in children is linked to decreased verbal intelligence at follow-up, as well as impaired maturation of gray and white matter regions.
Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest no screen time for children under two, and a maximum of one hour a day for those aged two to five, focusing on content high quality (e.g. educational content).
According to Dr. Suprakash Chaudhury, the role of parents includes –
1. Talk to them: Kids are more dependent on their family than on social media for their news, so talk to them about what’s going on.
2. Check: Share quick and easy ways to verify the reliability of information. This could include doing research to check who the author is and their credibility, seeing if the information is available on reputable sites, and using good fact-checking websites to get more information.
3. Get involved: Digital literacy is about participation. Teach children to be honest, vigilant and creative digital citizens.
4. Questions: Explore one type of media at a time, identify what’s going on, and encourage your child to ask questions about what they see or hear.
5. Analyze: By helping children learn to analyze information, distinguish fact from opinion, and draw evidence-based conclusions that inform their actions.
6. Monitoring: Need to filter clicks and fake news by blocking certain sites with filter function.
7. Exposure: It is extremely important to expose children to different types of information. Equally important is giving them access to the right information in digital and traditional formats. Schools, libraries and books can be of great help in this regard.
8. Checking the facts: Older children can learn to compare multiple sources to determine if information matches all sources, cross-reference. You can teach your child to use reliable sources that have been reviewed before publication.