Social media has helped to connect people throughout the world. Despite the rise in social media, little is known as to how social media affects the health of children and family dymanics. Some studies have demonstrated that social media use adversely affects the child’s performance in school (Gentile et al., 2004; Tu & McIsaac, 2002; Jacobsen & Forste, 2011). However, other studies have demonstrated that social media use may expose children to risky behaviors including cyberbullying, sexting, and ‘Facebook depression’ (O’Keeffe & O’Clarke-Pearson, 2011). Despite the negative findings of social media use, some studies have demonstrated that using social media helps to increase family cohesion (Williams & Merten, 2011; Yoo & Alavi, 2001; Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Schulz, Auvinen, and Crotty (2013) provide similar conclusions in a meta-analysis finding that social media usage in children helps to promote shared information, increase the child’s social interactions with others, and positively affect the child’s peer/emotional support. The conflicting finding in previous research demonstrates that social media may positively or negatively influence the child’s health and family functioning. The purpose of this research is to explore how parental social media use affects the child’s performance at school, their social relationships, and the child’s mental health.

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Research Questions
The following research questions have been identified for this study:
How does parental social media usage influence the child’s performance in school?
How does parental social media usage influence the child’s social relationships?
How does the parental social media usage influence the child’s mental health?

HO: 1. Parents who use social media frequently will have children that exhibit stronger social skills.
HO: 2. Parents who use social media frequently will have children who report a higher performance in school.
HO: 3. The parent’s social media usage will not increase the likelihood that the child suffers from mental health problems.

The research will be conducted online through a survey website.

All participants will report having school-aged children at home. Participant will further be required to have at least one social media account (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snap Chat, etc.).

Type of Research
The research will conduct a mixed-methods internet based survey to assess the role parental social media usage has on the child’s academic performance, social/emotional support, and mental health. The quantitative aspects of this study will focus on the amount of time parents spend on social media websites, and how parents distribute their time on social media websites (Creswell, 2013). The purpose of exploring the way parents distribute their time on social media websites is to determine whether or not the individual social media website the parents use influence’s the child’s mental health, academic performance, and social/emotional support. In order to increase the reliability of this study, the researcher will use O’Keeffe and Clark-Pearson’s definition of social media, which states,

Any website that allows social interaction is consider a social media site, including: social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter; gaming sites and virtual worlds such as Second Life and Sims, video sties such as YouTube; and blogs (O’Keeffe and Clark-Pearson’s, 2011, p. 800)

The qualitative aspects of this study will explore the child’s academic performance, social/emotional support, and the child’s mental health. Parents will be asked to rate their child’s academic performance using a likert scale (Creswell, 2013). Parents will further be asked to rate their child’s level of social/emotional support using a qualitative scale. Although the mental health portion of this research will further use qualitative measures, this will be done in two questions. The initial question will ask parents to identify whether or not their child has been diagnosed with a mental illness. Parents that answer yes to this question will then be asked to identify what specific mental illness (or mental illnesses) the child suffers from.

Quantitative Experiment
In assessing the quantitative aspects of this study, the researcher will use descriptive statistics to assess central tendencies associated with the amount of time the parent spends on social media websites.

  • Creswell J.W. (2013) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Gentile, D. A., Lynch, P. J., Linder, J. R., & Walsh, D. A. (2004). The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviors, and school performance. Journal of Adolescence, 27(1), 5–22.
  • Jacobsen, W. C., & Forste, R. (2011). The wired generation: Academic and social outcomes of electronic media use among university students. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(5), 275–280.
  • Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59–68.
  • O’Keeffe G.S., Clarke-Pearsons K. (2011) The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families. American Academy of Pediatrics 127(4), 800-804.
  • Schulz P., Auvinen A.M., Crotty B. (2013) A New Dimension of Health Care: Systematic Review of Uses, Benefits, and Limitations of Social Media for Health Communications. Journal of Medical Internet Research 15(4), e85-e91.
  • Tu, C.-H., & McIsaac, M. (2002). The relationship of social presence and interaction in online classes. The American Journal of Distance Education, 16(3), 131–150.
  • Williams, A. L., & Merten, M. J. (2011). iFamily: internet and social media technology in the family context. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 40(2), 150–170.
  • Yoo, Y., & Alavi, M. (2001). Media and group cohesion: Relative influences on social presence, task participation, and group consensus. MIS Quarterly, 371–390.