Mental health in young people is confounded by the ‘online’ world that they are connected to 24 hours a day. Although there are many benefits in the technologies that they are growing up with there are negative effects such as online bullying whereby young people can be bullied and threatened by their peers around the clock.
Banning young people from the use of technologies can create problems for the young person as they then become excluded from online forums and the means by which their peers contact and connect with each other.
Social media can also impact in positive and relevant ways within their youth culture. It may be a better approach for parents to limit and monitor the use of technologies with young people. Discuss the issues of social media in the family setting, brain storm how issues such as bullying and ‘trolling’ can be dealt with. I suggest to parents that when children have been given access to connect online that it is made clear that the parent will check online browser history regularly.
When the young person commences social media use, I suggest the parent request to be accepted as a ‘friend’ so they can monitor the posts. Explain this is responsible parenting with the aim to ensure that the young person is safe from abuse as well as restricting access to sites that the parent may disapprove of or believe to be harmful. I suggest that the parent never ‘hack’ a child’s social media account and respond to their posts in the child’s name, this would be a gross breach of the child’s autonomy. If the parent feels the need to post a comment on a child’s social media page, they should do so with their own identity.