Clinical Report—The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families
abstract Using social media Web sites are among the most common activity of today’s children and adolescents. any website that allows social interaction is considered a social media site, including social networking sitessuchasFacebook, MySpace, and Twitter; gaming sites and virtual worlds such as Club Penguin, Second Life, and the Sims; video sites such as youtube; and blogs. Such sites offer today’s youth a portal for entertainment and communication and have grown exponentially in recent years.
For this reason, it is important that parents become aware of the nature of social media sites, given that not all of them are healthy environments for children and adolescents.
Pediatricians are in a unique position to help families understand these sites and to encourage healthy use and urge parents to monitor for potential problems with cyberbullying, “Facebook depression,” sexting, and exposure to inappropriate content. Pediatrics 2011;127:800–804
SOCIALMEDIAUSEBY TWEENS AND TEENS Engaging in various forms of social media is a routine activity that research has shown to benefit children and adolescents by enhancing communication, social connection, and even technical skills
.1 Social media sites such as Facebook and My Space offer multiple daily opportunities for connecting with friends, classmates, and people with shared interests. During the last 5 years, the number of preadolescents and adolescents using such sites has increased dramatically. According to a recent poll, 22% of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day, and more than half of adolescents log on to a social media site more than once a day
.2Seventy-five percent of teenagers now own cell phones, and 25% use them for social media, 54%use them for texting,and24%use them for instant messaging
.3 Thus, a large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cell phones.
Because of their limited capacity for self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure, children and adolescents are at some risk as they navigate and experiment with social media. Recent research indicates that there are frequent online expressions of offline behaviors, such as bullying, clique-forming, and sexual experimentation,
4 that have introduced problems such as cyberbullying,5 privacy issues, and“sexting.”
6. Other problems that merit awareness include Internet addiction and concurrent sleep deprivation
.7 Many parents today use technology incredibly well and feel comfortable and capable with the programs and online venues that their child-
GwennSchurgin O’Keeffe, MD, Kathleen Clarke-Pearson, MD, and council ONCOMMUNICATIONSANDMEDIA
KEYWORDS Internet, cyberbullying, online harassment, Facebook depression, sexting, social media, digital footprint, COPPA, advertising, social networking, bullying, adolescents, children
ABBREVIATION AAP—AmericanAcademyof Pediatrics
This document is copyrighted and is property of the American Academy of Pediatrics and its Board of Directors. All authors have filed conflict of interest statements with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Any conflicts have been resolved through a process approved by theBoard of Directors. The American Academy of Pediatrics has neither solicited nor accepted any commercial involvement in the development of the content of this publication.
The guidance in this report does not indicate an exclusive course of treatment or serve as a standard of medical care. Variations, taking into account individual circumstances, may be appropriate.
All clinical reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics automatically expire 5 years after publication unless reaffirmed, revised, or retired at or before that time.
BENEFITS OF CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTSUSINGSOCIAL MEDIA
Social media sites allow teens to ac- accomplish online many of the tasks that are important to them offline: staying connected with friends and family, making new friends, sharing pictures, and exchanging ideas. Social media participation also can offer adolescents deeper benefits that extend into their view of self, community, and the world, including1,10:
1. opportunities for community engagement through raising money for charity and volunteering for local events, including political and philanthropic events;
2. enhancement of individual and collective creativity through development and sharing of artistic and musical endeavors;
3. growth of ideas from the creation of blogs, podcasts, videos, and gaming sites;
4. expansion of one’s online connections through shared interests to
include others from more diverse backgrounds(such communication is an important step for all adolescents and affords the opportunity for respect, tolerance, and increased discourse about personal and global issues); and
5. fostering of one’s individual identity and unique social skills.11