An expert on “children and the media” is concerned with the way internet is negatively affecting the social and mental development and interactions of children and adolescents.
University of Zambia (UNZA) Digital journalism lecturer Ms. Brenda Bukowa has said the explosion of social media use among people has changed the way children think and interact in Zambia and the world at large.
Ms. Bukowa stated that Internet and Social Media use among Children is posing challenges in Children’s social and mental development.
She has since urged parents to consider limiting the time children spend on social media to promote a culture of social interactions in “real life”.
“children nowadays tend to portray themselves in an idealized society and going online makes children more likely to make negative social comparisons with others, also the danger is that “making comparisons in social media tends to promote a culture where children portray themselves in an idealized state” she said
And Ms. Bukowa observed that the exposure to long hours of social media un-supervised makes children and adolescents think other people are happier, wealthier and better than them because of the profiles portrayed online which in most case are modified and they don’t represent the real identities of the person.
The UNZA lecturer who is also a “Children and Digital Spaces” Researcher noted with worry that children are now relying on technology for majority of their play which is limiting their creativity and imagination as well as limiting their bodies from achieving optimal sensory and motor development.
Ms. Bukowa has since urged Parents to ensure that they monitor their children’s online habits and make sure that they are kept safe online, adding that Parents should also activate parental control features on internet enabled devices.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal PhD fellow noted that stakeholders such as Zambia Information Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA), Government through the Ministry of Transport and Communication and Civil Society Organizations should come on board to draft and enforces online child protection laws in Zambia.
She emphasized that parents must also play a key role in ensuring every child is safe when they are communicating online.
“The government, ZICTA and civil society must draft and enforce child protection laws as this will greatly help in keeping our children safe Online”, Ms Bukowa said.