11-14 year olds
Young people aged 11-14 are likely to be completely independent in their internet and technology use and may use social media, online games and watch online videos on a daily basis. Here are some of the main factors relating to digital wellbeing which can affect a young person aged 11-14:
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It is likely that young people may engage with technology and the internet for extended periods of time every day/ week. This extended use of the internet has been reported to leave young people more likely to worry about how long they are spending online and what they have seen. It has also been linked to a sense of loneliness amoungst young people. However, not all online experiences are negative for young people and some can give them a sense of achievement and belonging and might allow them to share their talents and creative flair.
When it comes to using technology and the internet it all comes down to quality and not quantity, meaning that we should focus on making our use purposeful, and strike a healthy balance between online and offline experiences.
Desire to 'fit in'
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At this age young people might be feeling a lot of pressure from their online experiences. This could be pressure to look a certain way, recieve a large number of likes or follows or even pressure to watch and engage with content they may not be comfortable with. For example, on social media young people may encounter highly edited images which portray an aspirational look or lifestyle which are often refered to as 'goals'. The pressure to conform to these 'goals' could leave a young person feeling negatively about themselves and their achievements.
Mechanisms to keep us hooked
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Most games have been specifically designed to 'hook' a user in and keep them playing. This is often done by allowing a user to win or succeed but on the basis they stay within the game for an extended period of time in order to achieve this. Most online apps and platforms have functionality which has been built in order to keep us coming back. A simple notification, reminder to update content or alert that new content has been added could draw a young person's attention back to their device and result in extended use.
Content which makes us feel uncomfortable
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Online we can see and experience things we are expecting or that are welcome and things which make us feel uncomfortable, anxious or even distressed. When young people witness things online that they weren't expecting to see it could leave them with questions or worries which they need support with. Depending upon the nature of what they have seen sometimes it can be difficult for a young person to reach out for help for fear of judgement or embarrassment.
This content could include adult websites like pornography or gambling, discriminatory content or messages or extreme content which could include pro-suicide, pro-eating disorders, pro-self harm and radicalisation. Unfortunately, not all online content is positive and some can have a worrying impact on the digital wellbeing of young people.
Young people themselves may also actively search for this content out of curiosity, to seek answers, advice and support or in search of a community of which they feel part of.
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Falling outs and disagreements within friendships and relationships can often be seen as part of growing up but when these occur online they can become more complicated. The ambiguity of the internet and the fact that we cannot see someone's facial expression or hear their tone of voice can mean that messages and posts are misunderstood. Young people need support in navigating their online conversations and understanding how to approach a situation where they feel upset, offended or hurt by an online comment.
When it comes to supporting young people aged 11-14 with digital wellbeing we need to empower them to make choices which are right for them and will make their online lives purposeful, positive and inspiring.
5 top tips for supporting children aged 11-14 online
- Remember young people will use technology differently - It is important to acknowledge that young people will use technology differently to adults as they have grown up in a world which is already fully immersed in online experiences. We need to ensure our support reflects how young people are engaging with technology today and the best way to do this is by talking to them about their online experiences.
- Give techology a purpose - It is important that we use technology for a purpose rather than unconscientiously engaging with it which may lead to extended use. A good example of this would be using a tablet to find a recipe online and then putting it down to cook instead of looking for a recipe and ending up scrolling through endless pages online.
- Model healthy behaviour - It is important that young people see adults using technology in a healthy way as this will have an impact on their own use and can show them how to self manage their own time online too. This could be as simple as charging devices away from the bedroom at night or not using devices when eating or engaging with family or friends offline.
- Use wellbeing controls - Lots of devices and platforms now offer tools to help you manage your time online and be aware of how your use may be affecting your digital wellbeing. Most devices let you turn off notifications for apps and may have a 'do not disturb' mode which can help you to use a platform or app less. Many apps and devices will now tell you how long you have spent on their service that day and offer tips to manage your use. Visit the useful links on the digital wellbeing hot topic for more ideas.
- Be supportive - It's important that young people know who they can turn to for support, whether this is a trusted adult at home or school or even by contacting a helpline. Visit our 'Need help?' page for young people for further advice, support and suggested helplines.
- Stay informed - It's important that you know what to do or where to go to find out if ever your child does need help with something that is worrying or upsetting them online. Visit our 'Need help?' page for parents and carers for more advice, support and reporting routes.
Conversation starter ideas
A simple and effective way to get involved in your child's online life is through discussion and an open dialogue is the best way to help your child access the amazing resources the internet has to offer whilst keeping them safe online.
- What happens when you’ve been using technology for too long? (To your body? To your mood? To your device?)
- How does technology benefit you on a daily basis?
- Do you think technology ever has a negative impact on us?
- What could you do if you thought someone else was being negatively influenced by online content and/or contacts?
- Who could you talk to if you thought someone was being influenced online in this way?