I frequently scrutinize social media through the lens of a protective parent. Knowing that the brain isn’t fully developed until closer to twenty-five years old, I worry about young adolescents who are obsessed with posting things on social media. Parents and teens can learn about the dangers of cyberbullying and how to prevent it and gain more information on what they can do if they become a victim of cyberbullying.
With the surge of social media there has been an increase in cyberbullying, which is linked to depression in teens. At the same time, several high-profile teen suicides were linked to various social networks. In a study out of Leiden University in the Netherlands, on suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviors in adolescents, Mitch van Geel, PhD considers, “This may be because victims of cyberbullying feel denigrated before a wider audience, or because the event is stored on the Internet, they may relive denigrating experiences more often.”
Sure, kids learn right from wrong at a young age. However, their emotions and impulses are not fully developed to understand the devastating consequences of their actions. (Read the MIT Young Adult Development Project). I am not excusing children for bad behavior. Rather, because their brains are going through many changes parents/guardians need to be involved—and stay involved—in their children’s social media interactions. Monitor what your children are posting and reading online. Use that time for teachable moments to foster positive interactions.
van Geel M, Vedder P, Tanilon J. Relationship Between Peer Victimization, Cyberbullying, and Suicide in Children and Adolescents: A Meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(5):435-442. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4143.