What is social media?
Media is an instrument on communication, like a newspaper or a radio, so social media would be a social instrument of communication. In other words, it is just not about giving information but it is about interacting and sharing information. Hence, the key word here is INTERACTION. Any site that allows you to interact by way of texting, opinion polls, sharing of messages, videos, audios etc. all come under the category of Social Media.
The significance of this revolution is that every household in this modern era is exposed to Social Medias to the extent that FB, YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram have become a part of our normal vocabulary.
As with any technology, this too has its own pros and cons.
News about children being exploited over social media is not something new. In fact, there are groups out there in the internet world who targets children; their aim being from child abuse to collecting sensitive personal information. Hence, educating oneself about this new technology is equally important.
Being Safe Online.
Children should be taught about the etiquettes of being online and being a responsible cyber citizen. Below are few points that you might want to consider while being online.
- Never share personal information such as home address, phone number, civil ID number, passport number, email id with any stranger or without the consent of the parent.
- Be careful while posting or sharing videos and pictures of yourself or your family members to anyone. Remember once you post them online, it is no more in your control. Anyone can download it and use it the way he wants.
- Be aware of copyright laws. Never post or share others pictures or music without the owner’s consent. You might be breaking a copyright law and may be subject to legal actions.
- Have a good and reliable antivirus and antimalware software installed on your workstation and ensure that it is updated always.
- Keep your computer privacy settings as high as possible.
- Install the computer in an open area where everyone can see the computer screen and never in your child’s bedroom.
- Ensure your child’s computer is equipped and monitored with parental control software.
- Never give out your passwords and ensure that your passwords are strong enough that others cannot guess.
- Do not accept a friend request from someone whom you do not know until you know them personally.
- Do not meet up with anyone whom you have known over the net. Inform your parents or the authorities immediately about the person suggesting to meet up.
- Remember that not everyone is the person whom they claim to be.
- Respect other peoples views. Even if you do not agree to others views, you do not need to be rude.
- If you see something online that is uncomfortable to you, unsafe or worried, immediately close the website or report it immediately to an adult whom you trust.
- Do not call back a person who has missed called you and whom you do not know.
Positive impact of media on children
Even with its shortcomings, social media offers a wide range of applications in our day-to-day lives and helps us in enhancing various personal skills too. To name a few are
- Development of Communication Skills: Interacting is an art. It involves expressing one’s thought and responding to queries. In other words its communication. Hence, the first benefit of anyone being on social media is developing enhanced communication skills.
- Literacy skills: Being on social media helps in the development of reading and writing skills: Its learning with fun. To interact on a social media, reading and writing is an essential skill. And, this skill gets developed even without the user realizing it.
- Political and social awareness. Various post on different topics especially on current issues helps us in understanding what’s happening politically and economically in our country and round the globe.
- Values by watching good role models in media. Children tend to imitate personality. You want them to imitate good role models. Media is the best option in showing our children good role models. Lately, our President Late APJ Kalam has made a remarkable impression on our kids. Even though our kids have not personally met him our children knows who and what he was. This is the power of social media.
- Intellectual skills – problem-solving technics through games developed to enhance these skills makes them think from various scenarios and various perspective thus stimulating their brains. Brains consist of dendrites and each time we use our brain, these dendrites makes new connections thus increasing the capacity of our brains. The more the thought process is involved the more the brain works thus increasing its capacity that helps in better scholastic eminence.
- Numeracy skills: Learning to count, identifying shapes, calculation skills, solving numerical riddles etc. helps children improve their numeracy skills.
- Computer awareness and software skills: Children learn to use computers from a very young age. Most children already know how to use paintbrush and Microsoft movie editor to the extent that they are skilled at it.
- Educational benefits: Today we live in the world of knowledge explosion. Various medias such as TV, Internet and social medias throw pieces of information at us to the extent that one does not know what to choose and how much of information to choose. We can say that the role of teachers have come to an end and what we need now is a guide; to advise us on what sort of information needs to be taken into consideration and what needs to be forsaken. If the right knowledge is taken and put to proper use, social media can prove to be one of the best provider of educational benefit.
- Creativity: Children can be media creators, not just consumers. Making their own movies, taking photographs, and creating online content can help them develop critical thinking, social, technical and artistic skills. Children are already into creating short films using mobile cameras. This helps in nurturing the creativity in them and developing the same and if given the proper support and guidance, they will end up as professionals in this field.
- Social benefits: We live miles apart and in different worlds. Families are scattered all over the globe. Social networking sites are a good way to unite family together. Let your children get to know their grandparents, in laws, and other family members on skype and chats. Let them know that they are not alone in this world. Let them learn that family is a big concept – not just dad, mom and siblings.
- Islamic Education: Learning Quran, interactive and live Islamic classrooms, interactive Arabic learning classes, Quran learning WhatsApp classes are all gifts of social media.
- Standing up for a good cause: Expressing solidarity and raising their support for good causes are often campaigned using social media. Let our children learn to be a good social worker, let them stand up for good a good cause. Let them know that the world we live in has problems and let them try to be a problem solver. The success of the Arab spring was the result of campaigning through social media.
- Take a stance against Evil. Let our children join the fight against eradication of social evil by taking part in online campaign for the betterment and for the cause humanity. Instill in them the feeling of unity, universal brotherhood and humanity.
Result of a Survey from an Australian parenting site
Three-quarters of parents (76%) believe video games can have a positive effect on children when played in moderation.
94% of Parents say the benefits of video games include improved motor skills and hand-eye coordination,
91% parents said it builds problem-solving skills and 72% say it develops creativity.
Most parents (80%) say they enjoy playing video games with their children.
Helping your child get media benefits
You can help your child get media benefits by being involved with your child and their use of media – for example, you can visit quality websites together, encourage your child to use educational software, and view TV shows that offer extra learning opportunities.
When you are watching TV and movies together, try discussing how the plot works, how your child feels about what is happening and what would happen in real life if you behaved badly or illegally.
You can also talk about how the people are actors, and how special effects make things seem to happen.
National Geographic Channel, Animal Planet, Science Channels, History Channels, and Programs such as ‘How’s it’s made’, ‘FAQ’ puts lots of learning together.
Our role as parents.
Most of the disadvantages of Social Media can be overcome if certain aspects are looked into and if we as a parent fulfil our role.
We need to understand that no one is safe online. There are many negative impacts also. Moreover, it’s a fact!
The option here is not to stay away from it but to use it keeping in mind its positive aspects and at the same time understanding its dangers and trying to overcome it.
A knife is a sharp object. People even elders can get hurt. 13% of murders in the US are committed using knife like sharp objects. Still, every household has this item in their kitchen. Because we know its pros and cos and have learned to use it responsibly.
This is where the role of Parents comes.
- We must FIRST understand that and iPad, tab or a smartphone with an internet connection is NOT just a costly toy. It is the key to the online world. Many parents do not understand this.
- Give them a smartphone only if it is necessary. If it is just for communication while going to tuitions a normal phone is more than enough.
- Many parents also do not know that Facebook requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account. So ensure only children above 13 years have an account.
- Never allow a child to go to bed at night with their smart devices.
- Always assign a balanced time when children can be online.
- Children may be mad at you. That is okay. Better than regretting later on!
- Teach them the value of privacy of personal information, address, online activity, photos, etc. Moreover, they are not for sharing.
- Ensure that you go through their devices periodically in their presence to ensure that these devices do not contain in appropriate contents or applications that steal private information.
- Ensure you are also in the friend list of your child on FB. This will enable you to be notified of your children’s posts and shares. Be active on their FB walls, which help your presence being felt.
- Teach your daughters not to share their photos online and the problems of such actions.
- Be their best friend that they will come to you for any matter. Close the gap between you and your children.
- In the end you and your Child should understand that these are for their own good – ‘prevention is better than cure’.
Article By: Sameer Mohammed,
KIG Executive Member, Kuwait