A state child abuse prevention organization is highlighting the effects that social media and digital devices can have on children, especially during summer vacation.
The Pa. Family Support Alliance has launched a “Family Digital Wellness Hub” which they call “an effort designed to provide parents, caregivers, and communities with the tools and resources they need to keep Pennsylvania’s children safe.”
The response is data-driven. The Alliance cited survey results that found 20 percent of parents started a social media account for their child during the 2020 summer months as well as screen time estimates that found kids age 8 to 12 spend 5 hours and 33 minutes on screens while teens spent 8.5 hours connected.
“We have reached a time when parents and professionals can no longer just focus on limiting screen time or taking the device away in order to keep children safe–that is an outdated scenario,” Angela M. Liddle, president and CEO of PFSA said.
“Because of the nature of these platforms, how rapidly technology changes, and how adept child predators have become, we need to equip families and communities with the tools and resources they need to manage their children’s usage. Digital safety is no longer enough, we must prioritize their digital wellness.”
Unsurprisingly, cyber crime reports involving children more than doubled between 2018 and 2020, FBI data shows.
“The use of screen time, social media, and digital devices among children should alarm all of us, given the increasing threats and dangers they are faced with when interacting in a virtual environment,” the Alliance said in a statement.
That’s where the hub comes in — a “free resource that provides educational information for parents, caregivers, and communities to help them foster a safe and healthy relationship between their children and digital technologies.”
The hub is available at pafsa.org/family-digital-wellness/.
It “contains easily digestible information on social media, digital use, and how to prevent children from being harmed in virtual environments. The guide also includes a detailed FAQ section, tips, interactive quizzes, fact sheets, and action steps that can be tailored by families, as they become more proactive in reducing digital threats and preventing the potential abuse of children.”
From Times News-Observer, July 11, 2022