November 28, 2023

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK/KAIT) – Social media has evolved over the past two decades, making it difficult for parents to keep up with what their kids see online.
With school out, kids are spending more of their free time on social media.
“There is definitely an increase in the number of time students are spending online right now. There is no doubt about it,” said Ray Girdler, director of data use and privacy at the Arkansas Department of Education.
State officials 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,” Girdler said.
Ashley Midgette, a mother, recalled a scary moment to content partner KARK, in which 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,” she said.
According to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, 32% of parents report their kids aged 7 to 9 use social media apps. Author Johnathon McKee said 95% of teenagers have hidden, edited, or deleted posts on social media to prevent their parents from seeing what they posted.
The various options on social media have made it difficult 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,” Midgette told KARK.
Another mom, Jasmine Morris, said resources for minorities with kids are also 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,” she said.
Morris said her family goes 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 2,000 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,” Mitchell said.
You can find more tips on keeping your kids safe online by clicking here.
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