Research by a social network for primary school children in Ireland shows that more than 40% of kids aged seven to nine years old are showing increased levels of anxiety or stress.
The research carried out on 43,000 of its users by Cybersmarties – a safe educational social network for primary school kids, shows that the threat of a nuclear war, loss of a family member or money worries.
Cybersmarties.com, which is available to primary schools kids aged seven to 12 years old, carried out weekly research which shows that 43.2% of kids aged between seven and nine shows that anxiety is becoming more common at a younger age.
Although the system is designed to educate children in positive online behaviour, the instant messaging feature is revealing that children chat to each other about what is bothering them.
This in itself is a good thing but what is worrying sometimes is the content of those messages.
Children are like sponges, picking up a variety of information from many sources and because of their age are not always able to assimilate it in a logical way but rather purely on a personal or an emotional level.
Recent tensions between the US and North Korea and the potential threat of a nuclear war is often spoken about between children. Kids are obviously picking this up at home, overhearing conversations etc or the news itself and therefore think what that news means to them personally.
Kids can pick up on the news from family members or on television. If a parent or older sibling is expressing concern over a particular news item then children pick up on that and feel they must also be worried.
Loss of a loved one, like a grandparent can also be very traumatic to a child and is spoken about to a friend on an emotional level like feeling sad or lonely.
Financial issues which may be a concern at home is another anxiety trigger.
We are coming across is “live” data which has never been accessible before. Generally speaking girls are more likely to talk to their friends online about emotional issues more so than boys but at the same time are more likely to break friendships faster so overtime boys will reveal more but in a different fashion.
This is the way kids communicate now so it is important that our learning tools reflect this especially when it comes to social issues.
The more positive information we feed to kids, the more positive the kids themselves are and also the less likely they are to show inappropriate behaviour. Introducing “What If I Feel” videos using cartoon characters to explain certain emotions, that it is normal and commonplace to feel anxious along with the coping tools to react to such a feeling is having a very positive impact on the ground.