Social Media and How It Affects Young Kids

Social Media and How It Affects Young Kids: Does It Psychologically Make Them Violent?

A significant change in the 20th and 21st centuries was the immersion of media in our social environment. Social media has affected the culture and life of people worldwide through multiple mediums, including television, radio, movies, videos, video games, cell phones, and computers. This change plays a crucial role in the lives of young children. Regardless of the positive or negative effects, it is important to note the influence of social media on the behavior of young children. It is vital to note that the increasing use of electronics can negatively affect the well-being of children. Nowadays, there are new ways of bullying and victimization of youth because of the increase in social media (Kelly et al., 2019). The virtual world introduces immense possibilities in which young children can be harmed. Parents need to limit the use of social media in the lives of young children as it can reinforce harmful beliefs and views in an individual. Research shows that social media can negatively affect violent and aggressive behavior in young people, body image and self-esteem, and physical and school performances, to name a few. This paper will compare two different research articles on how social media affects young kids and if it makes them psychologically violent.

The first research article that I found is titled “Social Media Use and Adolescent Mental Health: Findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study.” This study was conducted by Yvonne Kelly, Afshin Zilanawala, Cara booker, and Amanda Sacker. The authors say that social media affects the mental health of young people through various processes that are not well understood. The study sought to find out if social media use caused depressive symptoms in adolescents and how multiple pathways that lead to depression work (Kelly et al., 2019). Those pathways include lack of sleep, low self-esteem, and online harassment.

The authors obtained data from the UK millennium cohort study that involved 10904 14 year-olds. Kelly et al. (2019) say that they examined the relationship between social media usage and depression using multivariate and regression path models.

The researchers found out that social media usage was associated with experiences of harassment, an increase in the time it takes to sleep and reduced sleeping hours. It also causes users to view their appearance and body weight negatively. Girls were found to be more depressed than boys. Furthermore, the longer the hours one spent on social media daily, the more intense were the depression symptoms. Online harassment and reduced sleep were the most significant contributors to depressive symptoms resulting from social media use (Kelly et al., 2019). The pathway through which reduced sleeping time caused depression was found to be much simpler compared to the online harassment pathway. This is because reduced sleep directly causes depression. In contrast, online harassment can cause reduced sleep or lead to low self-esteem, which will result in poor self-image, which will eventually result in depression.

The second research article that I found was titled, “Using social media data for assessing children’s exposure to violence during the COVID-19 pandemic”. This study was conducted by Pouria Babvey, Fernanda Capela, Claudia Cappa, Carlo Lipizzi, Nicole Petrowski, and Jose Ramirez-Marquez. The main objective of the research was to find out how the increased online presence brought about by COVID-19 crisis had increased the exposure of kids to abusive and violent content on the internet, including social media.  This study was carried out by using testimonials and conversation to collect data from social media users.

The primary method that was used to collect data was reviewing conversations on Twitter to measure if they contained abusive or hateful content (Babvey etal., 2020). Moreover, researchers used testimonials from Reddit forums to monitor how references to family violence changed before and after stay-home restrictions.

The suspension of schooling activities increased burden to parents as they had to struggle with childcare and work. Continuation of schooling through digital learning platforms and applications led to children spending more time online (Babvey etal., 2020). Moreover, due to travelling restrictions, kids were forced to communicate with their friends through social media and other messaging platforms. Use of platforms that require interactions through posts and comments created an avenue for various forms of online violence like cyberbullying. Results showed that in the COVID-19 period, there has been a significant increase in abusive and violent content on both Twitter and Reddit. The stay-at-home restrictions has led to an increase in the generation of offensive content, thus exposing kids to psychological trauma and violence.

Conclusion

From the two research articles I have discussed above, social media negatively affects kids in different ways. In the first article, the authors conclude that social media can lead to depression through online harassment or reduced sleep. Online harassment can lead to low self-esteem, which results in depression. In the second article, the authors conclude that the increased online exposure of kids due to the COVID-19 pandemic has increased their exposure to abusive and violent content on social media. This means that more efforts need to be put in the social media platforms to minimize the exposure of kids to online violence and abuse. The researches were comprehensively done, and I think nothing was left out. However, more research needs to be done on how effective the pre-existing measures on social media platforms are when it comes to preventing exposure of kids to psychological violence and abuse.

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