School’s out and the kids are off to their digital playground.
For parents, understanding what and how kids are spending their online is paramount in ensuring their experiences are positive and safe. Facebook, the leading social media platform, maintains its reign in New Zealand, with 78.6% of internet users aged 16-64 logging in monthly. Instagram follows, boasting a 57.7% usage rate. But it’s TikTok that’s capturing the youth’s attention, now reaching more than 1.65 million Kiwi social media users — half under 30, and a significant 30% between the impressionable ages of 10 and 19.
So, what does engagement look like on these platforms, and how can we as parents ensure it’s enriching rather than detrimental?
Facebook’s appeal lies in its connectivity, allowing users to keep in touch with friends and family through posts, messages, and live videos. It’s a digital scrapbook of sorts, where life’s milestones are celebrated. Instagram, with its focus on images and videos, reels in users with visual stories and a glimpse into the lives of others, be it friends, celebrities, or influencers. Then there’s TikTok, the new frontier for youth expression, where a medley of short-form videos spans the spectrum from dance crazes and comedic sketches to informative clips. Believe it or not, it’s where this generation is getting most of its news!
The challenge for parents isn’t just in the time spent on these platforms but in navigating the content encountered. From memes that often use humour to make a point, to reels that capture bite-sized moments of entertainment, social media shapes perceptions and can influence behaviour.
So, how can we, as parents, bridge the gap? Education is our greatest ally. We must become students ourselves, learning the language and nuances of the digital domains our children inhabit. An open dialogue is essential for discussing the nature of the content they consume, the people they interact with, and the personal information they share.
As a society, we need to cultivate digital literacy, guiding our youth to critically evaluate online information and understand the complex threads of online interactions. It’s not enough to know what platforms they’re using, we must understand why they use them and what they’re gaining from the experience. Let’s take this school holiday break to dive into their world, not with trepidation, but with a spirit of learning and understanding.
About The Author: Chris Ewing, a seasoned marketing strategist and owner of EMD Agency draws on extensive industry know-how to empower locals with strategies for navigating the digital landscape. For more information about EMD Agency head to www.emd.agency.