LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Social media is constantly evolving and parents are finding it hard to keep up, and constantly stay on their toes. Since school is out for the summer, kids are spending more of their free time on social media platforms.
The Director of Data Use and Privacy at the Arkansas Department of Education, Ray Girdler, said “there is definitely an increase to the number of time students are spending online right now. there is no doubt about it.” The Arkansas Department of Education created a program two years ago to inform people on how to use social media safely. “We have games, we have videos, we have conversation starters, we have activities,” said Girdler.
Mom, Ashley Midgette said that she recalls a scary moment when her six-year-old son, at the time, woke her up in the middle of the night because she heard him chatting through the wall with strangers on his video game —
“It scared me a little bit I guess because I wasn’t expecting it, because we had banned the games that are known for chatting like ROBLOX and chatting in Minecraft,” said Midgette.
According to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, 32% of parents report their kids, ages 7-9, use social media apps. Also, according to author, Johnathon McKee, 95% of teenagers have hidden, edited, or deleted posts on social media to prevent their parents from seeing what they posted.
Making it hard for parents to just rely on parental controls. “A lot of these games that they get hooked on they are learning it from kids at school so parents really have to stay on top of it,” said Midgette.
Another mom, Jasmine Morris, said resources for minorities are kids are lacking. “A lot of them don’t know. A lot of them come from different countries where they haven’t had the technology, and their kids are able to get technology now and stuff like that. most of the kids speak English the parents speak Spanish,” said Morris.
Morris said her and her family go into schools to help bridge that gap, and that is exactly what the new Miss Arkansas, Ebony Mitchell, has done to reach kids through her platform. “I would say almost 200 classrooms, over two thousand kids and it’s just been a great experience to be able to talk with them and help them be safer as they are online,” said Mitchell.
More tips on keeping your kids safe can be found online.