Online communication and the type of information your kids are consuming has the potential to increase mental health issues and anxiety, so how can you mitigate these challenges as much as possible.
A report by the OECD revealed 10% of boys and 14% of girls at the age of 11 reported ‘feeling low’ more than twice a week across a six-month period. This figure rises at the age of 15, with 29% of girls feeling low, compared with a lower percentage, 13% of boys feeling low.
How does this happen?
A large element is the ‘Compare and Despair’ factor, which could include:
Pictures of friends having fun, taking exciting family holidays, or simply doing things your children may not have been invited to, or even just talking about a shared gaming experience your child may not have been a part of. The fear of missing out factor can take its toll on self-esteem and confidence.
The ‘perfect’ hair, clothes, make up of friends and celebrities with use of filters is such an integrated part of image sharing – it’s sometimes hard to separate reality from an airbrushed and modified version of reality.
There is also the possibility of online bullying and exclusion. Signs may include a change in your child’s behaviour, they may become withdrawn, spending more time in their bedroom, or avoiding friends.
So what can you do to help?
Be aware – checking in on internet use and conversation should be a regular thing, not just a one-off conversation.
Encourage an open dialogue where your child can feel it is safe to talk to you without fear of criticism or judgement.
Talk to your child about body image – normalising diversity in body shapes and sizes will help distinguish the difference between on-line and the reality of the world.
Promote healthy sexual attitudes – although your child may want to run for the hills at the prospect of this conversion, the more an open dialogue is had, the more they’ll understand about distorted perceptions online versus reality.
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