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Social networking might actually be good for your children and young people

Despite the many negative reports that abound on this subject, new research shows that social networking might actually be good for your children and young people.

We hear all too much about the negative aspects of social media. Yes, there are dangers that we need to be aware of and respond to, but a large percentage of students’ report that using social media makes them feel inspired or excited. In a recent survey of 8-17 year olds, approximately 9 out of 10 (88%) said that when a friend was feeling sad or upset, they used social media to send them a kind message. In our PSHE lessons this week, the figure was almost 94%. I’m really pleased to see that our students are looking out for each other on-line.

Social media is now a part of everyday life and is becoming part of our culture. It is a vital aspect of teenagers’ and children’s social and creative lives. They use social media to have fun, make and maintain friendships, share interests, explore identities and develop relationships with family. It’s an extension of their offline and face-to-face interactions.

Social media can connect children and teenagers to online global communities based on shared interests. These might be support networks – for example, for young people with disability or medical conditions, or children from particular cultural backgrounds. Or they might be sites for commenting on and sharing content about particular interests like games, TV series, music or hobbies.

Your child can get many other benefits from using social media:

  • Digital media literacy: exploring and experimenting on social media can help your child build the knowledge and skills she needs to enjoy online activities and avoid online risks.
  • Collaborative learning: your child can use social media to share educational content, either informally or in formal school settings.
  • Creativity: your child can be creative with profile pages, photos and video, and modifications for games.
  • Mental health and wellbeing: connecting with extended family and friends and taking part in local and global online communities can give your child a sense of connection and belonging.

Key points

  • Social media is vital to teenagers’ and children’s social and creative lives. It has many benefits but also some risks.
  • Talking about social media use with your child is the best way to help your child avoid risks and stay safe online.
  • Written guidelines about social media use can help your child learn to use social media responsibly, respectfully and safely.
  • Banning or blocking social media access usually doesn’t work. If you ban social media, your child might be more tempted to check it out when away from home, making it hard to control.

Finding a balance between experiencing and using social media as a positive tool and staying safe while doing so is undoubtedly a challenge, but one that with the right support and guidance children and teens can achieve! For further information, click here:

 

Norah Buckley                                                                         

Assistant Head, Safeguarding and Child Protection.                   

Kari Ellis

Assistant Head, Pastoral

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