Social Media and Parenting

In our last weekend edition, we featured an article from the BBC headlined ‘Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg apologises to families in fiery US Senate hearing’.

What was striking about this article, was not the fact that Zuckerberg and the bosses of TikTok, Snap, X and Discord were questioned by senators from both political parties of the United States of America on what the tech bosses are doing to protect children online, but the appearance given by parents in the audience that their children’s safety, when they are online, depends solely on the owners, shareholders and executives of those social media platforms, and not on parents as well.

Even more striking were the Senators’ failure to point out to the parents in the audience the importance of them being parents to their children at home and in general. Parents who take the job of parenting seriously will ensure that their child/children would not be investing most of their available time on social media platforms, notwithstanding how valuable these platforms are to the education / learning of the child/children.

We are firm in our agreement with those parents who insist that tech bosses must install more safety measures on their social media platforms to protect children from online child molesters, fraudsters, predators, sexually explicit content, violent content, bullies and whatever else that could be found online which are detrimental to our children’s physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

We are all for tech companies creating a safe online environment for children when they are online and helping to protect them from unwanted advances from seemingly harmless known and unknown entities.

But those parents, and parents in general, need to understand that their children’s safety, development, protection and upbringing is first and foremost their responsibility, not that of the tech companies and certainly not that of politicians/government.

Yes, parenting has become more difficult in this age of social media, smart phones and other smart devices, however, that does not absolve parents from their responsibilities to their children to protect them from the very technologies that make life so easy for us.

Too many parents of today have allowed the small screen to absorb the time they should be using in instructing, teaching, bonding and educating their child/children. Many parents, to keep their child/children quiet and sitting in one place, will give them all sorts of smart device to play with, uncaring of the dangers lurking in unsupervised screen time.

Many parents are unaware that there is a thing called ‘too much screen time’ nor are they questioning, how much is too much screen time for their child/children in a single day, and how much can a screen impact their child/children development.

While we live in a world where it is common practice for children to engage with digital devices, we also live in a world where the development of a child/children is still the responsibility of the home /parents and not TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snap, X, or any other social media platform.

Adding to the difficulties associated with parenting today are parents themselves. Too many of them grapple with their own screen time, spending as much time on the screen (devices) as their child/children. They have their own device distractions, which results in them leaving the raising of their child/children to the various social media platforms.

The BBC article mentioned should serve as an eye opener to all parents as they seek to find the right balance in holistic child/children development in this age of social media, smart devices, artificial intelligence and instant chat.

Never must it be forgotten, that the job of parents / parenting, over rides every other job, and that there is no app, smart device, social media which could justifiably do that job. This has a bearing on the prosperity and success of our nation and the quality of our people.

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