When a divorce occurs, the children often feel split between two parents. They may be angry with one or both parents for the breakdown in the relationship. Many times children also have to move home and even change schools which can add to their feelings of having lost their lives. The family may also come under financial strain not experienced before.
Heading online for comfort
These negative aspects of divorce often lead to children finding comfort and an outlet for their emotions online. The relationship they have depended upon the most is broken. They are often bereft and desperately trying to make sense of what has happened to them. They may feel a need to connect with others to try and fill the place of what they have lost. The internet is always available to them and they feel more in control in an online environment.
Social media is used by most children who go online from a young age, often using mobile phones that make it difficult to monitor online activity. A divorce will often make children, especially teenagers, less communicative and more rebellious. Their level of rebellion could result in online activity that puts them at risk, causing mental and emotional damage, especially if they are exposed to cyber-bullying.
A child of divorced parents may also begin to rely too much on the internet for entertainment, especially if he or she has moved to a new location and has not really made friends yet. Internet addiction may lead to them to become anxious, depressed, and irritable, with difficulty in concentrating and sleeping.
Monitoring online behavior
Parents of divorced children have even more of a responsibility to monitor their online behavior than others. Respect your child enough to communicate, ask them about sites they like to visit and foster an open, honest relationship. You cannot prevent them from going online but you can set some ground rules and help them to understand why they are needed.
It’s also important to talk to your ex and try to collaborate about how to co-parent when it comes to online use. It doesn’t make sense for you to do all you can to protect your child at your home and then find out that the opposite is occurring at your spouse’s house, giving your child completely mixed signals.
This issue of online safety is just one illustration of how much a divorce can impact a child. If your ex does not agree on your policies, try to use the situation as a learning opportunity to explain more about online issues such as privacy and security to your child. A child of divorce is more vulnerable because of what they are going through. You want to make sure that they feel they can communicate openly with you or they may hide activities that expose them to danger.
Social media and divorce a con
Social media often plays a role in divorce nowadays. Social media platforms may even be a source of evidence in divorce cases. A father claiming to have no money may be proved to be a liar when pictures of his brand new Mercedes show up on his Facebook page.
A mother who swears she doesn’t drink may face photos of her with a drink in hand just days prior to making a statement. A former spouse may go on Facebook and post vitriolic comments about an ex. Posts on social media may even be used as evidence in child custody cases.
The problem with all of this negative adult interaction on social media sites during and after a divorce is that children using the internet may be inadvertently exposed to it. They may see their father flaunting a new car while they are struggling financially or see a mother going on vacations with a new boyfriend.
Internet visitation and technology a pro
There is one way in which the internet can be used positively after a divorce. It provides a way for the child to communicate with the absent parent. Before this possibility existed, dads often fell by the wayside after a divorce. Now they are able to maintain a level of closeness with a child, even when they are not physically close.
Whatever has gone wrong with the relationship, both parents still have an important role in the child’s life. Allowing a child to keep contact with the other parent via mobile phone or the internet can make a child feel much better and allow the bond to remain strong. Of course, it’s not a substitute for seeing a parent in person but it is far better than not seeing the other parent at all between visits.
Technology also offers other practical advantages during a divorce. It helps parents to make plans and decisions with minimal interaction, thus keeping boundaries intact.
The evidence shows that the internet can be a blessing or a curse for children after a divorce. It is often not the divorce itself, but the poor level of handling of the situation by the parents that causes unnatural amounts of stress for the children. If parents manage to keep a united front, even when it comes to internet usage, this will help to ensure that children stay as safe and happy as possible when experiencing divorce.