The holiday season may be a time in which many children are eager to receive cell phones and other digital devices, but are you ready as a parent?
Know, a program of Prevention Action Alliance is asking parents and caregivers to consider the potential connection between smartphone use and depressed and even suicidal children.
Officials note social media can be accessed through a variety of digital devices, but the smartphone is the tool ‘tweens’ and teens use most often to share posts, pictures, and personal information.
Things that should be considered are Cyberbullying, Picture-Perfect Lives, Social Isolation and Sleep Deficit. The report ‘Social Media is Bringing Our Teens Down,’ published by Know offers specific connections to each.
As a parent, we must ask ourselves what we can do to help protect our children from the potential downward smartphone spiral, according to officials with Know.
The organization offers the following steps:
When it comes to Cyberbullying:
- It is critical to engage our kids in regular and ongoing conversations on the topic of cyberbullying. Youth must be clear on what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior online (and in-person) and they must know what to do if they find themselves being bullied.
When it comes to those supposed Picture-Perfect Lives:
- Remind your child that the pictures they see online are only a glimpse into another person’s life – and even then it’s likely only the pretty parts and only with the help of filters.
When it comes to Social Isolation:
- Limit the time you allow your teen to be online to two hours or less per day – and encourage activities that benefit their mental well-being, like fresh air, exercise, volunteering, meeting new friends, and participating in group activities (to connect with others in the non-virtual world).
When it comes to Sleep Deficit:
- Remove the temptation of late night texting and internet surfing by charging your child’s phone in your bedroom each night. Another thing you can do is sit down with your child and create a cell phone contract to establish or re-establish the rules.
The following is a sample contract created by youth advocate and expert Josh Shipp:
Michaela Madison Reporting