Learn How Kids Embrace, Consume and Socialize Using Technology

The Benefits of Social Media

By Dr. Vicki PanaccioneNovember 21, 2012

Unlike so many of the articles out there extolling the dangers of social media, this article is about some of the benefits.  And there are many.

The results of a national survey conducted by Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, released this past August, revealed that 83% of parents interviewed felt that the benefits of their children’s social media use outweighed or at least balanced any perceived risks.  And, nearly 75% of parents said social media “prepared their kids for success in a digital society and encouraged curiosity and collaboration.”  Yet, these same parents said they were also concerned about child molesters, sexting and cyber bullying.

Although Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and so on can pose dangers, there are a number of current research studies showing important benefits.  For example, social media provides opportunities to develop social and technical skills that teenagers need to function in today’s society. It can improve their communication skills and offer opportunities to make new friends.  Not everyone on social media is a predator…there are many kids from around the world out there eager to meet new friends and exchange ideas.   This is a great way to connect with the world!

(On a personal note, I like to play a word game on my phone with random opponents.  One such opponent asked where I was from.  When I texted Melbourne (FL), she commented that she was from Melbourne, too…Melbourne, Australia!  I thought it was very cool that I was playing with someone outside the US!  You kids will enjoy that kind of experience, as well.)

Additionally, teens and preteens are using social media to stay in touch with friends from school, sports and other activities—much like many of us used to use the phone.  That’s why it can be detrimental to your older kids to ban their social media use because it will limit not only their social lives but even their education.  Many students will talk about school, homework, projects, etc. via one of the social networks and many teachers have their own Facebook page and post information for their students to access!

Using social media also helps kids develop their social networking skills, which seem to be the continued wave of the future.  Social media is not a passing fad; if anything, it continues to have greater influence on kids all the time.  It is up to you, as a parent, to help your kids develop these skills, like all the others you teach.  In fact, it appears that social media skills are a new skill set that all kids are going to need for a successful future.

The other amazing advantage of social networking is that everything is done in real time.  Any news that your kids want to share or need to access is at their fingertips—up to the minute and in blow by blow detail.

The disadvantages, of course, continue to be potential avoidance of interacting face to face, cyber bullying and on-line predators.  Additionally, social networking can be a real time waster and highly addictive.

That is why parents still need to be involved in this aspect of their kids’ lives and stay informed!  That is also why kids need to be taught the proper, acceptable and safe way to use social networking.

Here are some recommendations from the Children’s Mercy Hospital researchers:

  • Don’t rely on children to help you navigate social media so you can’t be tricked later.
  • Parents should always review their child’s online history, text messages, emails and more. Take away phones or computers if they don’t comply.
  • Start with limited access to the Internet and make them earn your trust.
  • Create clear consequences for breaking stipulated rules. Doctors suggest using a signed contract to spell out the rules.

My additional recommendations include:

  • Insist on having their passwords
  • Be “friended” by your kids so you can see what’s being posted.
  • Don’t comment on their posts unless your kids are comfortable having you do so.
  • Remember you are on there to monitor for safety, not normal teen content.
  • Be careful not to be critical of language and comments on their pages; be a silent observer and let your kids have their communication with their friends.
  • Feel free to inquire about anyone posting to your child’s account who you don’t know.
  • Be open-minded about allowing kids from other states or countries to post as long as the content is acceptably teen-oriented.
  • Give your kids their “space” while periodically checking that they stay within agreed upon boundaries.


Child Psychologist and Parenting Expert

Dr. Vicki Panaccione has been called, “The World’s Expert in Parenting,” and “The Oprah Winfrey of Families.” She is an internationally recognized child psychologist, speaker, parent coach, best-selling author and radio personality who has dedicated her 25 year career working with 100’s of children and helping 1000’s of parents raise happy, successful kids…and enjoy the ride! Visit her online at http://www.betterparentinginstitute.com/.

2 Responses

  1. […] Newest Oldest Title Publisher More from Raihan Rahman: Miscellaneous Sort Share parentingtodayskids.com       1 minute […]

  2. Hans Cudilla says:

    It’s refreshing to read something that’s not about how social media can harm society (as most articles do in order to make it controversial). Social media is merely a tool, and the effects it can cause depends on how who uses it. Great article! :)

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