By Megan Kirk,
Word in Black
Social media has changed the landscape of the world and some believe it’s not for the greater good. While social media provides an outlet for the stressors of life, it is also a platform for overstimulation. Adults, teens, and children alike have witnessed the perils of social media and the pool of negativity that can be associated with it. As communication and entertainment shifts, ways to counteract its effects are also on the horizon.
Children can be the most impressionable users of the internet. Videos of violence, sexuality, drug abuse, and other content are made readily available for the country’s youth with little to no filter. Though all kids are impacted by the woes of social media, Black and Brown children seem to be at a larger disadvantage as cases of social and racial unrest have repeatedly played on phone screens over the last several years. Witnessing these encounters firsthand has had a damaging effect on the mental health of some children and impacting their view of themselves and the world.
“In many ways, a person’s affirmations of words and how that’s connected to how good, especially children of color, do in school. The way children perform in school impacts them longer than just that one day of school. That impacts them, essentially, for the rest of their lives; how they perform and how they react and how they deal with grades,” said Anthony Frasier, CEO of ABF Creative. “The other reason is we live in an environment where mostly kids are on their phone, a lot of bullying happening on the internet, a lot of screen activity and a lot of video games. Kids aren’t necessarily going outside and interacting with other humans the way they used to.”
President Joe Biden addressed the country in his State of The Union speech in March and called attention to the impacts of social media. Urging tech giants to be proactive in placing restrictions and safeguards on social media platforms, the President said in part:
“It’s time to strengthen privacy protections; ban targeted advertising to children; demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children.”
With a background in tech, Anthony Frasier has developed a tool that may help Black and Brown children not only navigate media and culture but also help to build mental health habits. Through a series of three-minute podcasts, Frasier has found a way to merge youth with positivity through technology. “Charm Words was developed when we saw the affirmations of words actually help children feel happier, specifically children of color feel happier and even close the grade gap with their white counterparts by 40 percent,” said Frasier. “When I saw that stat, I immediately felt like we needed to create a podcast that had an impact on the behavioral health of children, especially children of color in this current environment, in this current climate.”
The addictive nature of social media can be considered a drug for some children. With algorithms designed to keep users coming back for more, hours can be lost as messages are internally downloaded to children. These messages have been proven to have a stark impact on their minds. This may cause jarring effects on not only the brain, but the emotions of viewers.
“In one sitting on social media, you can see death, you can see something funny, you can see something sad, you can see something hilarious, you can see something that inspires you and you see all of that within a one-minute time span scrolling up and down. That’s unhealthy. The human brain was not meant to switch emotions 10 to 12 times within a three-minute span,” said Frasier.
To help children deal with the impacts of social media, parents are encouraged to step in and monitor their child’s social media accounts and the pages they follow. Parents are also encouraged to feed their children positivity away from screens so children can feel heard, seen, and validated.
“Affirmations of words are really important. That’s the reason why we even created the podcast in the first place. Number two is I would definitely say limiting the amount of screen time they have. I think that’s something that’s not talked about a lot simply because everybody has a cell phone. I think limiting the amount of screen time and having honest and open conversations with your kids about the things they’re going through,” said Frasier. “We’re not talking to kids enough.”
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