Parents: Social media benefits outweigh risks

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A large number of parents in the US believe that the benefits gained by their children’s use of social media outweigh or offset any perceived risks, according to a national survey by the Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics.

Despite concerns about cyber bullying and child molesters, 83 per cent of the respondents said the use of social media is important for the success of their children as it fosters learning and encourages collaboration.

More than half of the 728 parents polled said that social media made their kids more open-minded.

However, nearly 40 per cent of the parents surveyed are worried that the use of social media could lead to behavioural problems such as social isolation. Additionally, roughly 40 per cent opined that the online activity could negatively affect the real-life social skills of their kids, such as their ability to make friends.

Ed Christophersen, Child Psychologist at Children’s Mercy Hospitals, explained that although children’s exposure to social media has lots of benefits, giving kids unsupervised and unlimited access to the internet could lead to problems.

Law enforcement officials agree. Gary Mason, Police Spokesman at Overland Park, Kansas, commented that parents have the right to demand their children’s passwords at social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter so that they can supervise and safeguard their kids from inappropriate content.

Additionally, 71 per cent of the parents surveyed stated that 13 is the right age to let their kids use social media. Fittingly, Facebook prohibits children younger than 13 from signing up. However, there are many cases where children have lied about their age in order to open an account.