April 30, 2012 -
Today many kids are rushing home from school to log on to social media sites to chat online or via text message rather than communicating in person. According to Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Therapist, Rachel Scharlepp "kids are texting frequently, they are talking a lot more, talking about things they maybe wouldn't talk about face to face in good and bad ways."
New research from the pew Internet and American Life Project reveals the average teen sends about 60 texts a day. Older teenage girls tend to send and receive about 100 per day. Scharlepp says "it's no longer human contact it's more distant, and kids aren't getting what they need they're not picking up on social cues that they need. They're not comfortable making small talk and getting through those awkward moments and we know in the real world as adults that we have to be able to navigate those systems."
Mother of two, Jessica Mcpike, signed her daughters up for Facebook after moving back to California so they could keep in touch with family and friends. She says, "I have to make them get off the computer sometimes and with the cell phone I continue to hear it ring as the text messages come in and sometimes it's kind of hard to really know what your kids are doing or saying"
The American Academy of Pediatrics says using social media can be a risk to adolescents more often than you may think. It can open the door to cyber-bullying, privacy issues and lack of face to face communication between family and friends. Research found 20 million minors which is anyone under the age of 18, have a Facebook account and 7.5 million of that 20 million are under that legal age of 13 and 5 million of those are under the age of 10. The research also refers to cell phones and shows that 22 percent of young children ages 6 to 9 years old, 60 percent of tweens ages 10 to 14 years old and 84 percent of teens ages15 to 18 own a cell phone. Scharlepp states that "children want to be on Facebook, they want the social media and the gaming so parents have to learn to navigate that and what to do."
According to Manager, Chris Gigglio at Verizon Wireless, many parents want their kids to have this technology to help them stay in contact. He says there are applications that parents can use to monitor how much and when the kids are on the phone and Internet. Gigglio says “there are also usage controls so they can kind of monitor what kids are doing on these phones and they can even block sites depending on what they feel inappropriate for their age.”
Mother of two, Trish Wingerson, allows her 7 year old daughter, Kaia, to play on the computer but sets limitations. She says “you don't want them to lose that face to face and that's so important, we're human beings, we need interaction, we need communication and I don't want them to lose that so I think there is always a limit, there's a balance that you have to achieve.” When given the option to play on the computer or outside, Kaia Wingerson says “Nah, I'd rather play outside, it's more fun.”
If your kids are communicating online, it’s important to remember, what goes online, stays online. Scharlepp states that “the information out there stays out there, the degree of safety and risk is greater then it was before because not only is the information coming in, kids are putting the information out there and it puts them at risk."