Devorah Heitner is an expert on how young people use digital media. TFK Kid Reporter Orlie Weitzman spoke with her.
1. Instagram delayed releasing an app for kids under 13. What does this mean?
Instagram did research and found that its app had negative effects on teenage girls. The algorithm sends girls to content that affects their body image and makes them feel bad about themselves.
2. Does all social media work like Instagram?
I don’t think social media is always bad. But it can be if it makes kids feel left out or distracts them from doing other things they might enjoy.
3. Should there be more laws protecting kids on social media?
There should be more regulation of the ways social media can work. It’s also important that parents help kids make decisions about what apps to use and how to use them.
4. What is digital citizenship?
It’s the idea that we’re all participating in a digital community and that we should strive to be our best selves. When we interact on a digital platform, we should take the same thoughtful approach we’d take to an in-person interaction.
5. Thoughtfulness does not always happen, does it?
Life outside of school used to be a haven for kids who were having negative interactions in school. Now kids can have negative interactions even when they’re not at school. Adults might say, “Turn it off.” But if kids feel their life is on social media, they’ll want to spend time there.
6. What should I do if I’m bullied—or see someone bullied—online or on social media?
That’s not a problem you can solve on your own. If you’re experiencing in-person or digital bullying or harassment, tell a parent or an adult at school.
7. Should my parents know about my digital life?
Absolutely. Adults can relate to questions like, “What do I do if someone follows me and I don’t want to follow them back?” Adults can learn from kids on these issues, too. 8. So what’s the positive side of digital media? Kids can be creative or connect with friends, especially during a pandemic. It’s also a place where kids can be activists.