A national child abuse prevention organization is highlighting the effects social media and digital devices can have on children, especially during summer vacation.
The Pa. Family Support Alliance has launched a “Family Digital Wellness Center” that 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 answer is based on the data. The Alliance cited survey results which found that 20% of parents opened a social media account for their child during the summer months of 2020 as well as screen time estimates which found that children aged 8 to 12 spend 5 hours and 33 minutes on screens while teenagers spend 8.5 hours linked.
“We have come to a time when parents and professionals can no longer focus solely on limiting screen time or removing the device to keep children safe – this is an outdated scenario,” Angela M. Liddle, President and CEO of PFSA said.
“Due to the nature of these platforms, the speed with which technology is changing, and the skillfulness of child predators, we need to equip families and communities with the tools and resources they need to manage the use of their children. Digital security is no longer enough, we must prioritize their digital wellbeing.
Not surprisingly, reports of cybercrime involving children more than doubled between 2018 and 2020, according to FBI data.
“Children’s use of screen time, social media and digital devices should alarm us all, given the growing threats and dangers they face when interacting in a virtual environment,” the Alliance said in a statement.
This is 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/.
This “contains easy-to-digest information on social media, digital usage 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 adapted by families as they become more proactive in reducing digital threats and preventing potential child abuse.