Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram are used daily. It’s a convenient way to keep up with friends, family, and connect people with similar interests. In most cases, social media is a safe and fun tool for teens and adults. Unfortunately, social media can also be a quick access point for children in care to connect with negative influences, inappropriate peers and adults, and fall victim to exploitation.
Social media can be used to make inappropriate contacts. Children who have been abused and neglected may have a skewed sense of attachment. They are also at a higher risk for exploitation as they associate physical touch and affection as true attachment. Social media is also used as a tool for sexual predators and human traffickers to locate victims.
If the children in your home and under your care use social media, it is critical to teach appropriate boundaries for its use. Early and frequent education on the dangers of social media is critical. In addition, providing frequent signals of care through positive and encouraging statements, appropriate physical touch and unconditional love will go a long way to meeting the need that so many children in care seek out in a misguided way through social media outlets.
Matt Arnet , LCPC has worked with KVC since 2007. He is currently the Director of Outpatient Services for KVC. Matt earned his B.A.in Psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia and Master’s of Science in Professional Counseling from Avila University. He is a certified Master Trainer of Trauma Systems Therapy (TST), and licensed by the state of Kansas as an LCPC (licensed clinical professional counselor).