As your child grows up, they may want to meet new people and develop friendships outside of their immediate family. Some people will be involved in things like sport, hobby groups or other after school/group activities where they can meet other people with similar interests. For other people, socialising and making friends online might be preferred due to social anxieties, communication difficulties or poor accessibility of community locations. Some people might not have any interest in meeting new people. All of this is OK.
For children today, social media and technology is an important part of the way they develop skills including:
- digital media literacy
- collaborative learning
- relationship development and maintenance
Children can surprise us with how quickly they adapt to new technology and social media platforms. This might be concerning for parents, particularly if they did not grow up with internet-connected devices themselves. Parents are often concerned about bullying and abuse occurring online and may want to block or restrict their child from socialising online.
It’s important to remember that digital technology like social media is now an ingrained part of how children and young people connect with their peers, including children with intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder. It is impractical to cut your child off platforms where the majority of their peers are interacting, and doing so can have negative impacts by limiting their access to information and emotional support.
Supporting your child to navigate social media safely can be a positive step in developing and maintaining relationships. To keep your child safe on social media, it’s important to support them to understand the risks involved and strategies for keeping safe.