For clinical psychologist Dr. Saliha Afridi, there aren’t many things that are black or white. But having children on social media? “The bad outweighs the good exponentially. It’s not good for kids,” says the managing director of Lighthouse Arabia.
Part of being a kid is forming an identity, says Dr. Afridi. “When children don’t form a healthy sense of self, which comes from knowing their uniqueness, personal values, and likes, they will be anxious, lonely, and depressed.”
Social media is stunting the ability for kids to form identities, she adds. “They’re having values projected onto them, rather than as a result of a reflective process of internal likes and dislikes.”
When kids spend all their time online, they stop knowing themselves and learn only to show themselves, says Dr. Afridi. “They spend more time with influencers than their family.” This can result in skewed standards of beauty, thanks to the frequency of airbrushing and photo apps; anxiety; depression; and the feeling that what you have is never good enough, because someone always has more.
It’s equally dangerous to create a social account for your baby or toddler. “Why would you want to do that? There is nothing good that can come out of it.” At first, says Dr. Afridi, it could be cute. “But then their childhood will be hijacked by capturing perfect moments, constructed to get likes and followers.”
So what can you do? Keep your kids off social media until they’re 17-years-old and have formed their identity, says Dr. Afridi. Or if they must have a phone, limit the time on it.
“No matter what you tell your children, they will be influenced by those things that they have the most exposure to.”