Social media and children: what is the paediatrician’s role?
Social media use has become an integral part of children’s and adolescents’ lives. It has become a novel way of interaction among people and influences people’s social lives and public opinion as well as people’s purchasing decisions and businesses. Any website or platform that allows social interaction is considered to be a social media site. Social media use among children in 25 European countries has been reported to be 38% among 9–12 year olds and 77% among those aged 13–16 years. All these children report having their own profile on at least one social network site. While social networking provides children and adolescents with many opportunities and benefits, it also carries many risks. Among the benefits are socialization and communication enhancement, improving learning skills, positive impact on education and getting health information. Potential risks of social media use include falsifying age and identity, cyberbullying, sexting, Facebook depression, gamification, glamourization, cyberostracism and sleep disturbances.
Conclusion: Paediatricians play a vital role in promoting the physical, mental and social welfare of all children. There is a critical need for paediatricians to play an active role, guiding children and families appropriately through the impact of social networking, in order to become a real driver of children’s development.
KeywordsSocial media Social media use Cyberbullying Sexting Gamification Glamourization
Social network site
• Adamos Hadjipanayis: study conception, design and drafting the article
• Elisavet Efstathiou: drafting the article
• Peter Altorjai: contributed to the improvement of the manuscript in terms of content
• Tom Stiris: study conception and reviewed the manuscript
• Arunas Valiulis: scrutinized and reviewed the manuscript
• Bert Koletzko: scrutinized and reviewed the manuscript
• Helena Fonseca: commented on the initial draft and contributed to improve the manuscript in terms of content.
All authors have read and approved the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
- 1.A A (2011) Youth today: social media use can lead to mental health problems. Accessed 25 Oct 2013Google Scholar
- 3.Bartle R (1996) University of Essex: hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades: players who suit MUDsGoogle Scholar
- 7.Bonetti L, Campbell M, Gilmore L (2010) The relationship of loneliness and social anxiety with children’s and adolescents’ online communication. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw 13/3. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2009.0215
- 8.Brinkley DY, Ackerman RA, Ehrenreich SE, Underwood MK (2017) Sending and receiving text messages with sexual content: relations with early sexual activity and borderline personality features in late adolescence. Comput Hum Behav 70:119–130. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.12.082 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 9.Cain J, Katherine C (2013) Exploring social media’s potential in interprofessional education. J Res Interprof Pract Educ 2(3):1–7Google Scholar
- 11.Celizic M (2009) Her teen committed suicide over ‘sexting’ (Today.com). Retrieved on 12 December, 2012, from http://studentservices.dadeschools.net/sexting/pdfs/Her_Teen_Committed_Suicide_Over_sexting.Pdf
- 12.Center PR (2015) Teens, technology and friendships. | Pew Research Center. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/06/teens-technology-and-friendships/. Accessed on 23 Feb 2018
- 13.Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Chapter I, Subchapter C, Part 312Google Scholar
- 14.Childwise (2017) Monitor report 2017: children’s media use and purchasing. https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/research/research-highlight-series/113-childwise-monitor-report-2017. Accessed 16 Jan 2019
- 15.Chindamo S, Buja A, DeBattisti E, Terraneo A, Marini E, Gomez Perez LJ, Marconi L, Baldo V, Chiamenti G, Doria M, Ceschin F, Malorgio E, Tommasi M, Sperotto M, Buzzetti R, Gallimberti L (2019) Sleep and new media usage in toddlers. Eur J Pediatr 178(4):483–490. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00431-019-03318-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 16.Common sense media. Is social networking changing childhood? A national poll. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/sites/default/files/uploads/pdfs/social_networking_poll_summary_results.pdf. Accessed 16 Jan 2019
- 23.Glamorizing real life identity through online identity. POSTED BY MSWIFT2 MARCH 13, 2014 Digital Media & Cyberculture.last read at: 06.07.2019. Available at: https://fordhamcyberculture.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/glamorizing-real-life-identity-through-online-identity/
- 26.Hamm MP, Newton AS, Chisholm A, Shulhan J, Milne A, Sundar P, Ennis H, Scott SD, Hartling L (2015) Prevalence and effect of cyberbullying on children and young people: a scoping review of social media studies. JAMA Pediatr 169(8):770–777. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.0944 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 27.Hartshorn S (2010) 5 differences between social media and social networking. Social Media TodayGoogle Scholar
- 28.Helsper E, Van Deursen A, Eynon R (2016) Measuring types of internet use, from digital skills to tangible outcomes project report. http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/From-digital-skills-to-tangible-outcomes.aspx. Accessed on 14 Feb 2018
- 30.Ito M, Horst H, Bittani M, Boyd D, Herr-Stephenson B, Lange PG et al (2008) Living and learning with new media: summary of findings from the Digital Youth Project. Chicago, IL: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur foundation reports on digital media and learning. http://digitalyouth.ischool.berkeley.edu/files/report/digitalyouth-TwoPageSummary.pdf. Accessed 4 May 2014
- 31.Jadayel R, Medlej K, Jadayel JJ (2017) Mental disorders: a glamorous attraction on social media. J Teach Educ 07(01):465–476Google Scholar
- 34.L. B Millions of social media photos found on child exploitation sharing sites. The Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/national/millions-of-social-media-photos-found-on-child-exploitation-sharing-sites-20150929-gjxe55.html. Accessed 20 Oct 2016
- 36.Lenhart A, Purcell K, Smith A, Zickuhr K (2010) Social media & mobile internet use among teens and young adults. Pew Internet & American Life Project, MillennialsGoogle Scholar
- 37.Livingstone SH L, Görzig A, Ólafsson K (2011) EU Kids Online: final report 2011, EU Kids Online, London, UK. http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/EUKidsOnline/EU Kids II (200911)/EUKidsOnlineIIReports/Final report.pdf. Accessed on 09 March 2018
- 39.Livingstone S DJ, Bryce J, Batool S, Haughton C, and Nandi A (2017) Children’s online activities, risks and safety: a literature review by the UKCCIS evidence group. Technical Report. UKCCIS evidence groupGoogle Scholar
- 41.Mark G (2001) Sex on the internet: observations and implications for internet sex addiction. J Sex Res 4(38):333–342Google Scholar
- 42.Mcdool Eea (2016) Social media use and children’s wellbeing”, Discussion Paper Series, Institute of Labor Economics. http://www.iza.org. Accessed on 08 Mar 2018
- 45.Most popular social networks worldwide as of July 2018, ranked by number of active users (in millions). Statista. Retrieved 3 August 2018Google Scholar
- 46.New technologies and 21st century children: recent trends and outcomes OECD Education Working Paper No. 179Google Scholar
- 49.Ofcom. Children and parents: media use and attitudes report. Publication Date: 29 November 2017Google Scholar
- 54.Richards RD, Calvert C (2009) When sex and cell phones: inside the prosecution of a teen sexting case. Retrieved on 12 December, 2012, from http://www.lawrencewalters.com/articles/AlpertArticle.pdf
- 55.Rubin KH, Bukowski WM, Bowker JC (2015) Children in peer groups. In: Bornstein MH, Leventhal T, Lerner RM (eds) Handbook of child psychology and developmental science, vol. 4: ecological settings and processes, 7th edn. Wiley, Hoboken, pp 175–222Google Scholar
- 60.Williams KD (2007) Ostracism. Annu Rev Psychol 58:425–452. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.58.110405.085641 CrossRefGoogle Scholar