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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Parental Neglect in the Digital Age

Aug 31, 2023 07:26PM ● By Jennifer Vear Hoy

Studies show that modern parents are far too free with internet access and social media use, and far too overprotective in the real world. This leads to a lack of coping skills and numerous other consequences, such as higher rates of sadness, loneliness and depression. 

Gone are the days when childhood meant playing outside, tumbling in the woods, going on adventures and the classic parent’s statement, “Be back before dark.” These formative years of play and social interaction with others help kids and teens develop key skills. Social media does not replace real-world relationships. Only the parent knows their child, and some require more supervision than others. Overprotective parenting normally harms, rather than helps children.

While middle-schoolers and younger children are generally given unrestricted access to the web, many parents ignore this because they can’t keep up with the technology. This unrestricted access is disastrous to a child’s well-being.

The greatest risk to children is online, and this includes sexual predators. In one study, 40 percent of middle school students said they would accept friend requests from strangers on social media. According to the FBI, “An estimated 89 percent of sexual advances directed at children occur in internet chatrooms or through instant messaging.” Childhood predators now primarily groom children through the internet, rather than in the real world.

This doesn’t address pornography, which exists on essentially all platforms. As the website Fight the New Drug points out, “If 60 percent of 10- and 11-year-olds have smartphones, is it really surprising that sometimes they will encounter pornography online, whether they are looking for it or not?”

Paying attention to a child’s internet and social media habits pays dividends.

Jennifer Vear Hoy, a practicing psychotherapist, is the owner of Peaceful Summit Counseling, located at 1048 Goodlette Rd., Ste. 201, in Naples. For appointments and more information, call 239- 307-4708 or visit See ad, page 5.