I’ve just finished reading a June 3, 2019 New York Times article, When Social Media is Really Problematic for Adolescents, by pediatrician Perri Klass and published for her New York Times Check-up column. It’s an engaging read for parents of digital kids and for educators. (Check out other New York Times articles by Perri Klass.)
Dr. Klass makes a strong case for using a new paradigm when we consider the 21st Century digital world challenges of preteens and adolescents. She writes that technology activities such as gaming and social media may not be the primary cause of problems such as cyberbullying, addiction, or suicide, but rather interactive factors that further complicate the existing social-emotional and psychiatric problems of many young people.
In the article Dr. Klass notes that exposure to social media and the complexities of digital engagement may exacerbate existing personal problems of teens and tweens by magnifying difficulties and increasing the consequences.
Dr. Klass also shares also the thoughts of well-known Harvard Medical School pediatrician, Dr. Michael Rich, who is also the director of the Center on Child and Media Health at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Rich notes that, often, when children and adolescents receive treatment for their psychiatric, social-emotional or learning problems, their digital life complications become less challenging.
Best Quote from the Article
Children may use interactive media in problematic or dangerous ways because of underlying problems, or they may be particularly vulnerable to what they find on social media. And even while the specific links between social media use and mental health (in both directions) are debated, and researchers try to elucidate the connections and the risks, there is a general acknowledgment that the emotional landscape of the next generation is increasingly tied to those online connections, for better and for worse.
By the way, Dr, Rich and the Center on Media and Child Health post a wide range of digital parenting tip sheets, organized by age and as well as by important topics. They are useful resources for individuals as well as for parent groups in settings such as schools, churches, civic organizations, and book clubs, and will help adults support and mentor their digital kids.