Did you hear your child talking about online friends or online friendships?
If you are a parent who has provided access to smartphones or the internet to your child then you should definitely read this piece of write-up. Children these days are tech-savvy and they spend most of their time ogling at the screens. May it be a smartphone or a laptop or TV, the majority of these Gen-Z kids are hooked to electronic and digital gadgets.
It can be peer pressure to use such gadgets and platforms because your child’s friends are using them. They may get the urge to use it too and it is absolutely natural! Children are expanding their social circle by being on the internet.
Some like to interact with new people, some get in contact with them for games or other fun activities. Whatever is the reason, the point is that the social circle of children is expanding and that too on the digital or social media platforms. For this reason, parents should know all about this matter and the concept of online friendships.
What Is Online Friendship?
When you get to know or become friends with someone only through the internet or social media, then this kind of friendship is known as online friendship. You do not know all about the person who is your online friend. You ‘meet’ them through these platforms. It is absolutely rare that you meet them in person.
Generally, these kinds of relationships are casual and people do not prefer getting serious. They become friends with each other just to kill time or to share their viewpoints or ideas. Or some may even make online friends so as to exploit or bully or to satiate their ill desires.
Some people get connected to their online friends so deeply that they decide to meet them in person. Another reason why online friendships are trending these days is that one can vent out their thoughts and perceptions without living in the fear of getting judged by someone they know. Also, online friendships are easy and come with less maintenance.
Online Friendships And Statistics
As per the research done by Kaspersky Labs and iconKids and youth, kids are forced or pressurized to join social media platforms so that they can stay in touch with their friends. Parents in this digital era are forced to provide their kids with smartphones and other such connected devices. But the downside of this is that kids get addicted to the digital world. Let’s have a look at the statistics that highlight the whereabouts of online friendships.
About 44% of youngsters have admitted that they use smartphones because of their friends. And more than 32% of kids stay connected with their online friends compared to their real-life or offline friends.
42% of the kids have accepted that they are equally afraid to lose their offline and online friends and about 11% of the children are afraid to lose their online friends more than their offline friends.
35% of smartphones are utilized just for accessing messaging apps and social media platforms by youngsters. Furthermore, the researches suggest that as kids grow up, they like to meet people only through online friendships. 54% of teenagers in the age group of 14-16 prefer having an online friendship. They are not interested in meeting people and building friendships in the real world.
What Are The Demerits Of Online Friendships?
It is impossible to identify who is sitting behind the screen. In fact, finding the true intentions of a person on the face is an impossible task so imagine how difficult it will be to fish out the real intentions of a person you have no information about.
Most of the people that are absolutely frank in online friendships are dark and mysterious in real life. There have been cases that suggest that older men or pedophiles conceal themselves as youngsters and expand their social network to meet teenage boys or girls.
Moreover, if your child, by mistake or deliberately chooses to disclose its personal information like the city you live in or their school or anything else, a person who is on the internet may be able to track them down in a jiffy. There are uncountable risks attached to online friendships including mental and physical harassment.
What Can I Do To Protect My Child From The Disadvantages Of Online Friendships?
To protect your child from the disadvantages of online friendships, check out the points given below.
- Make your child understand that they cannot know each and everything about their online friends. Neither should they absolutely believe what their online friends are saying.
- Make sure that the apps your children are using are authentic and correct. Such apps must follow proper guidelines and settings that assure the privacy and safety of your children.
- Introduce them to the fun of meeting friends in person and try to enlighten them on the importance of maintaining a real world social circle.
- Limit the disclosure of personal information.
- If they ever happen to meet their online friend, insist them to meet at a crowded or public place.
- Lastly, ask them not to get too attached to their online friends and not to take online friendships way too seriously.
The Bottom Line
We cannot hold back our children from exploring the latest technical advancements. And why should we even think about it? Even if your child is maintaining online friendships, make sure that he/she is not addicted to them. Online friendships are the new cool way to stay connected, but the parents should monitor them. And yes undoubtedly, a dose of extra caution is required here! Tell us what’s your take on this matter and if you feel to share your views, hit us up in the comments section.