How Internet Activity Can Affect Your Child’s Mental Health
Nowadays, young people use the internet and, more specifically, social media for many reasons. For instance, children and teens may use social media to feel connected, control social anxiety, and receive a sense of support and reassurance from friends and peers.
However, internet access can become addictive and fuel unhealthy compulsions if left unchecked. In addition, using the internet can expose children to bullying and make them feel isolated, which can have a negative impact on their mental health.
As you can see, internet activity has many positive and negative effects on your child’s mental health.
If you’d like to know more, check out the rest of the article below.
Positive Effects of Internet Activity on Children
The positive effects of the internet and social activity include:
- Internet activity helps children feel more connected to their friends and allows for positive interactions, which can improve mental health.
- Social media can help children maintain and grow relationships with family and friends, especially if they live far away.
- Internet activity can help children engage with their passions and interests and help with their homework and further learning.
- It provides a chance to make new friends with other young people with similar interests.
- It gives children a chance to be more honest and open with their thoughts and feelings.
- The internet can help people find support during difficult times, as they may read about similar experiences.
- Social media can empower children with communication issues and other disabilities, connecting them with communities.
- The internet can provide information on improving a child’s mental well-being and looking after themselves mentally.
- The internet provides greater access to formal and informal support for various issues.
- The internet can encourage creativity and simply be entertaining for young people.
Negative Effects of Internet Activity on Children
While there are many positive aspects of using the internet, parents should be aware of the risks social media and the internet pose to their child’s mental health, which may have long-reaching effects further down the line. These include:
Children who spend time on the internet in the evening may not get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can impact their school performance and increase their risk of anxiety and depression. Typically, children need between nine and 11 hours of sleep every night.
Accessing Inappropriate Content
If children use the internet unsupervised, they may access hateful, racist, or violent material. In addition, they could also find pornography accidentally. Some studies show that young people are likely to find pornography through targeted content and advertisements rather than actively searching for it. In addition, when young people first find pornography, they are usually curious but also disgusted and confused.
Potential for Grooming and Online Abuse
When children interact with other people online, they may not know who they are talking to or if that person has genuine intentions. As such, young people are in danger of being groomed or developing inappropriate relations that could lead to harassment, stalking, exploitation, sexual abuse and exploitation, or threatening behaviour. According to the NSPCC, more than one in seven young people between 11 and 18 have been asked to send sexual images or messages to somebody online.
Cyberbullying is one of the most significant issues with unrestricted social media and internet access. Like offline bullying, cyberbullying can increase your child’s chance of developing anxiety and depression; it also lowers self-esteem. Some research has found that young people who are bullied online are more likely to self-harm.
Body Image Issues
In a Mental Health Foundation survey, 40% of children said that social media images made them worry about their body image.
Children and young people are likely to compare themselves to influencers, celebrities, and vloggers online. As a result, they will filter images of themselves to look more like the body ideals they see online.
As such, children have a higher chance of developing body dysmorphia – a condition where somebody constantly worries about how they look or their body in relation to others; this can negatively impact their mental well-being.
What Can You Do?
If you are worried about your child’s internet usage and want to limit the things they can access, you may want to consider something like the MMGuardian Parental Control App. If your child has a phone, you can use this app to monitor their SMS and social media usage; you can also set time limits, filter websites, and receive security alerts.