So, you’re concerned about junior’s social media habits… Find out why it’s not all bad news…

For the generation Z tween, using social media to interact with their peers is a big part of their daily lives. Notes Elaine Chen, mother to Matthew, 12, “He’s always on his phone after doing his homework and when I ask him he’ll say that he’s on Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook.”

Chen, 42, even had to take away her son’s phone during the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) this year, only allowing him to use it for an hour each day before bed. “I just didn’t want him to ignore his studies, especially for such an important exam.”

Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, notes that Chen isn’t alone when she worries that her child may neglect his studies because of his social media habits. “They are also worried about their kid is posting inappropriate messages and pictures of themselves online, cyber-bullying and even meeting sexual predators online.”

“A child without any social media accounts will become isolated and ostracised [in school].”

Add social media addiction to their list of concerns and it’s easy to see why many parents are wary of their children’s social media habits. However, you don’t need to force your offspring to delete his social media accounts.

Dr Lim points out, “A child without any social media accounts will become isolated and ostracised [in school].”

He advises that you instil digital literacy skills instead. “Not unlike road safety, it is good to educate your kids about the internet and online safety.” Dr Lim adds that setting rules and boundaries on the use of smart devices and social media will give you greater peace of mind.

He lists positive effects it can have on junior’s development…

1) Broadens their perspective of the world Your kiddo gets to know someone living on the other side of the world on platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. They’ll gain first-hand knowledge about another person’s culture, religion and thoughts in real-time. This will especially benefit your shy and introverted child.

2) Boost self-esteem and confidence
Getting a “like” from his peers can build your young ’un’s confidence. However, Dr Lim cautions this can be a double-edged sword. “Having more ‘likes’ doesn’t necessarily mean that the child is better and these false self-assurance may breed narcissism.” This could depress them because they don’t get any or enough “likes”.

3) Get support from likeminded individuals Junior will find “kakis” on social media, much like how you found your mummy tribe online. Wherever his interests lie — whether it’s hip hop or heavy metal music — he’ll always find a community to join. Facebook has tonnes of online communities and groups.

Wherever his interests lie — whether it’s hip hop or heavy metal music — he’ll always find a community to join.

4) Learn new skills free Just log on to YouTube and search for tutorials. If your child is interested in a particular skill, say cooking, there’s usually a how-to video on the topic. And these free lessons can be accessed any time.

5) Gain business experience Junior’s entrepreneurial skills can take off big-time on social media, nor do they need to have money to start a business. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram lets users on a shoestring budget advertise their goods and services. Your mini-me can also sell their pre-loved possessions on applications like Carousell.

6) Stand up for a social cause Activism messages can spread like wildfire on social media. Just think of the buzz over the. If your young ’un is passionate about a certain social issue, he can use social media to create awareness and lead a movement.

7) Turn their passions into a career If your child’s strengths lie in artistic fields like film-making or singing, YouTube helps him cultivate his own group of online fans. Pop music artists like Selena Gomez, The Weeknd and Ed Sheeran are just a few of the big names who’ve found fame through social media.

Photos: iStock

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