Every generation has its struggles, those things that parents and kids never seem to agree on, and the experts weigh in on frequently. Middle schoolers of today have to contend with the constant prevalence of social media, and the constant tension that might exist with their parents and teachers. Social media has brought a whole new level of connectedness to our children, and they can always see where their friends are, what they are liking, and who they are not liking. Social media can be a powerful tool, but is it appropriate for middle schoolers?

The positive side of social media

While much of the press these days focuses on the dangers of social media on this generation, there are some positive aspects. Social media allows kids to interact with each other and with their community in larger ways, and they can network with charities, volunteer opportunities, and even creative collaborations. They can see what artists and musicians in other states, or even other countries are doing, and spark their own creativity and artistic ambitions. The amount of blogs, videos, research, and even gaming sites that are available can really stretch their minds and make them eager to build on current technologies and new ideas. They also can step outside of their own culture or neighborhood and get to experience the opinions and creations of people that are radically different from them. This can expand their worldview, and keep them connected not only to current events, but the reactions to those events by kids their same age. Social media can help facilitate school projects and collaborations, and they can access information they may have missed in class through research websites, or by asking their peers over Facebook. Social media makes it possible to know that you aren’t alone in your questions about schoolwork, or your general anxieties about being a preteen—it can be hard! Of course, with all of this connectedness there are problems as well, and parents should keep a watchful eye on how their kids are using social media.

Increased bullying

It used to be that you only had to worry about bullying when in the presence of the kids who were your aggressors, but social media allows the bullying to extend past the confines of school and goes with kids into their homes. A mean comment on Facebook or Instagram can have detrimental effects on kid’s self esteem, and lead to isolation, and even depression.

Constantly comparing yourself to others

Middle school is a tough time for kids, as they make the transition from elementary to high school and also from being a “little kid” to a young adult. Kids are always looking to others to see what they are wearing, what they are saying, what is considered cool, and what will bring about judgement from their peers. The constant glimpse into other people’s lives on social media is not healthy for tweens, and can make them feel inadequate and always needing to check in with what others are doing first. Limiting the amount of time your kid spends on social media will help cut down on how much time they spend comparing themselves to other student’s pictures, posts, and videos.

Social media interferes with real connections

Kids who are constantly on their phones, liking and commenting on other people’s posts are losing out on the face to face connections they could be having with their peers. Being able to have a conversation, handle differences, and resolve conflict is complicated by social media, and the constant ability to be “connected” even when you haven’t had a conversation all day. Social media can also interfere with a child’s relationship with their parents and siblings, and when they are buried in a screen they are disconnected from everyday life. Creating a balance is key, where they can interact digitally but also have real, tangible people skills.

Wow, we are just getting started! Social media is a complex issue that doesn’t have clear boundaries, and what is good for one child might not work for the next. Middle school is a hard time for kids, but with the support of both their parents and their teachers this can be a great time of growth. If you are looking for a middle school in Loveland that will nurture and support your middle schooler, New Vision Charter School would love to be that place for your child! Take a free tour of our school today!