The impact of social media on children is subtle, but pervasive

Kids and digital media: removing the fears, Christian Science Monitor, December 20, 2012

Yes, Adam Lanza’s being “addicted” to video games before the shootings in Newtown is a possibility, and Senator Jay Rockefeller has called on the American Academy of Science to undertake more or less definitive research on the connection between violent video games and real life violence. Both are valid foci of discussion for the nation. 

But the impact on children of the media and specifically social media is more pervasive, if more subtle than the headline-grabbing idea that witnessing or role-playing fictional violence begets real life violence.

The immersion of our children in media for about 8 hours a day, according to recent surveys, does seem to lead to social isolation and greater focus on the self. And kids’ overdosing on the media does risk their becoming inculcated with a sense that others are primarily sources of competition rather than their  coming to perceive others as part of a community that works together to thrive.

More and more, parents are feeling overwhelmed with a sense of fear about the media and the negative impact of it on their kids. Contrary to the title of this article, I think this fear has some value. This parental anxiety can be productive, even valuable, since it may catapult parents into closer relations with their children and into becoming more familiar with the high tech world where their children have come to live.