Can Facebook make your child happy—or will it just lead to loneliness, as this Atlantic article-gone-viral suggests?
According to some interesting research, social media arguably can make us feel more connected and less lonely. Alternately, it can make us feel more isolated and depressed, and for kids, lead to what Erik Erikson posed as the critical psychological danger in pre-adolescence: “an excessive feeling of inadequacy and inferiority,” a risk for tweeners heightened by social media exposure. (For more about this theory as it relates to Facebook, see Diana Graber’s excellent CyberCivics post on the subject.)
As I wrote last week, children need to be taught explicitly how to use social media, just as we would teach them to drive a car. In particular, we need to teach them how their online presence reflects three things:
- how they want to be perceived
- who they want to be
- their influence on the world