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Cyber-Sitting: Parents Must Monitor Their Children’s Social Media Use

Despite their risks to youngsters, digital platforms also offer benefits.

Social media allows the younger generations to communicate with their friends and family, as well as study and search for information online. However, it also has its risks.

Even though some parents regulate their children’s digital life, problems like cyberbullying, grooming, and sexting are a threat to minors and may even cause lasting damage.

“Sadly, this is nothing new,” said María Isaura Tapia Carranza, a Mexican housewife. “I dread that my children may be exposed to cybercriminals, who, at best, may steal their identity and use it for fraudulent purposes, and, at worst, allow them to fall into the grasp of pedophiles or kidnapers who may attempt to hurt them.”

As technology continues to advance, newer generations have more methods to communicate. The Mexican government has advised parents to monitor their children’s digital lives on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram.

However, some people argue that such bans deprive minors of the ability to socialize through the internet.

It’s important to monitor children’s online activities to ensure they are watching appropriate content. (Charles Deluvio/Unsplash)

“I am concerned that the continued use of social media could harm their mental and physical health,” said Tapia Carranza, a housewife and mother. “I know that social media can generate bad habits and disinterest in more productive activities that benefit them, such as their school activities.”

Moreover, no one yet knows how much social media can change a child’s character.

“Since the advent of the Internet, people have become more and more impatient, consuming information quicker, no matter how trivial it is,” said Édgar García, a clinical psychologist from the Cristóbal Colon University in Mexico. “People form their opinions based only on headlines, have a harder time concentrating, and there are some who even sell their intimacy to the highest bidder. Given all that, parents must monitor their children’s online activities.”

There are educational platforms that children can take advantage of. (Mckaela Taylor/Unsplash)

However, it’s also worth noting that technological advances offer many benefits.

“In my case, smartphones and tablets have helped me supervise my children since they were 11 years old since my husband and I work full time, and this way we could monitor them from afar,” she said.

Moreover, electronic devices can contribute to minors’ academic training, an opinion shared by Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology and the National Institute of Ecology, organizations that promote the interest of children and young people in science.

The Mexicans’ general opinion is that, as long as their use is correctly regulated and under parental control, social media does not negatively impact children. However, the internet can also be dangerous for children, so caution is advised to all parents.

(Translated and edited by Mario Vázquez; edited by Matthew B. Hall and Kristen Butler)

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