Noida: 12-year-old boy Surjeet died while performing a 'Superman stunt' on May 14, 2022, in Parthala village of the city at his home to post on social media. His cloth got stuck on the edge of the wooden box due to which he was strangled.
The strong impact of social media on children has long been a part of study. As we lay foot in a world where studies become online, and children live away from family to prepare for examinations, we cannot ask them to shun social media completely. We cannot deny that social media also brings awareness, exposure, and accessibility to students. However, every now and then, we come across incidents that make us look at its underlying dangers.
Attention goes to the Blue Whale challenge from 2016 where a social media game instructed players to perform 50 tasks, gradually proceeding to acts of self-harm and finally suicide. Claims of suicides connected to the game have been reported worldwide, but none have been confirmed.
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Ashish Mittal, a resident of sector-36 Noida, says, "As responsible parents or guardians, we have to monitor all the activities they are doing in their initial phase of life. Social media should be limited for children."
According to a report from the American psychological Association Daily overuse of social media and technology has a negative effect on the health of all children, preteens and teenagers by making them more prone to anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders, as well as by making them more susceptible to future health problems.
We reached out to psychologist Shipra Lamba to talk about the impact of social media on children.
Is social media entirely unhealthy?
She says that being active on social media has its own pros and cons. Benefits may include increased awareness about what is going on in the world, socializing with friends, showcasing talents, learning, earning, etc. In this tech-savvy world, social media has become a part of our survival just like water and oxygen. "Just like water and oxygen, social media is healthy only in limits. If limits are crossed and no boundaries are put then it can cause more harm than benefits. With children, we have to be more careful, as habits learnt at a young age form personality."
Shipra mentions the negative impacts of the overuse of social media. Some of them can be such as self-obsessive behaviours, anxiety, irritability, physical injury hazards, poor concentration, confusion, body image disorders, sleeping problems, eating problems, interpersonal issues, self-esteem issues, etc."
When should parents draw the line?
"It may be difficult to keep our children completely away from being active on social media but setting limits and boundaries considering the health, safety and welfare of our children is very important. Therefore it is important to discuss with children the importance of setting time limits, present safety hazards, and the negative effects of being too consumed with social media on their mental health and physical health."
What should we do to regulate the use of social media by children?
Shipra says, "Help children understand that social media needs to be used responsibly and smartly so that we can save them from hurting themselves physically and mentally. Plus engaging them in outdoor or indoor sports and activities may help. Apart from that, it may benefit if the government can put a minimum age limit on some of the platforms."