Screen Time: How Parents Can Ensure the Safety of Their Children by@brianwallace

Screen Time: How Parents Can Ensure the Safety of Their Children

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Brian Wallace

Founder @ NowSourcing. Contributor @ Hackernoon, Advisor @GoogleSmallBiz, Podcaster, infographics

Unlimited screen time has significant effects on children, and has been considered one of the most harmful effects of the global pandemic. Screen usage continues to grow and has more than doubled from 2019 to 2020, not including time spent online for school work, reading, or listening to music. Studies show that many teenagers feel addicted to their mobile devices, and the vast majority feel the need to immediately check notifications and respond to messages. Since the pandemic, 63% of parents say that their teen’s social media usage has increased, therefore increasing the chances that younger users will accidentally access harmful content.

There is a significant mental and emotional toll that online experiences take on young people, and teens who use social media for over 3 hours per day are at a heightened risk for mental health issues. 1 in 6 teens have experienced cyberbullying, and a shocking 90% of teens believe that online harassment is normal. In addition to bullying, accidental exposure to inappropriate or pornographic material while online is very common. On average, users are first exposed to this type of harmful content at age 11.Β 

This early exposure can have long term consequences, such as greater risk of depression, lower self esteem, or loneliness. In 2020, one third of reported child sexual abuse material (CSAM) was self generated, and 62% of teens and young adults have sent or received a nude image. These numbers are exponentially higher than previous years, which can be attributed to the overly accessible online platforms where children may encounter this content. Most children are exposed to this content most often through online gaming, innocent internet searches, or unregulated adult websites.

There are many methods to protect children from harmful content. Creating good habits, talking to the child about their online experiences, utilizing parental controls, and setting clear ground rules are only a few of the options for parents or guardians who have these concerns for their child’s safety. Although the internet can be a dangerous place especially with increased screen time, with new technology, parents can very easily and effectively ensure that their children are having only positive experiences online.

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