At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we believe every child should have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential – both as individuals and citizens. We believe that by changing the course of young lives we can in turn be changing the course of a community’s future.
Start Talking is a place where we want to raise awareness of key issues that face today’s youth. We will sometimes advocate, sometimes educate, sometimes inform, sometimes ask questions and always invite discussion about the pressing concerns that involve the younger generations of today.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

If Video Killed the Radio Star What is Social Media Doing to our Children

Some of you may have heard or even remember a song from The Buggles, released in 1979, called Video Killed the Radio Star. The song was about the promotion of technology but also its potential worrying effects. The song was made famous when it was the first video played by MTV when it launched in the early 80s.

Why should we continue to worry about technology and its effect, especially on our children.

A recent report by Media Smarts entitled Young Canadians in a Wired World shows that Canadian students are more connected, more mobile and more social than ever and yet adults are less strict about monitoring and educating their children about online behaviors.

Here are some sobering stats from the survey:

- 24% of Grade 4 students own a cell phone;
- 30% have a Facebook account despite the fact that Facebook is supposed to be restricted to anyone under the age of 14.

Even more troubling, the survey asked the children if there were rules about their online use

- 44% of the respondents said they had rules about getting together with someone they meet online;
- 48% said they have restrictions regarding sites they visit;
- 52% said they had rules regarding talking with strangers online.

In 2005, 74% of respondents of a similar survey said they had rules about getting together with someone they met online; 70% had restrictions regarding visiting certain websites and 69% had rules about talking to strangers online.

Interestingly, another piece or research caught our attention this week: Teens are reporting high levels of stress and are having trouble managing it. In fact 43% of the teens surveyed said they are turning to online activities to manage their stress instead of more healthy alternatives such as exercise.

Clearly, we cannot stop children from using technology, nor perhaps should we; however, we should start thinking about how we educate them about its use and provide then with some guidelines on healthy online habits or we may see some unhealthy side effects.

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