Don’t skip this article, even if you think you already know everything about social media and you’ve already watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix (a must-watch).
About two months ago, I was asked to do a presentation on social media and primarily how it affects teens and pre-teens. I’ve given hundreds of presentations on a variety of topics across the United States that have partially included issues amplified by social media, but never presented one that has been solely dedicated to it. A lot of what I found I already knew such as the fact that we all spend too much time on phones and tablets, especially kids. Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 and its many variants have only made it worse.
How to Make the Necessary Changes
Teen rates of depression, anxiety, stress, self-harm and suicide continue to climb with the only major variable added over the last ten years being social media. The stand that we have to take starts in the home. I know how easy it is to give a kid a tablet and send them off to their room. I’m as guilty as the next guy. But the bottom line is… we aren’t doing them any favors. In
2015, around 22% of kids ages 8-12 had their own smartphone. By 2019, that number was estimated at 40-44% and only about half of parents with kids aged 5-15 use parental controls.
The average 13-18 year old spent an average of seven hours and 27 minutes looking at screens each day in 2019.
In order for you to gauge if your phone use is a problem, understand that if you don’t control your phone but rather the phone controls you, that is a form of addiction. The Social Dilemma was correct when it asserted that tech companies use a form of addiction-based psychology to keep you on their platforms. They are fighting for your eyes and your time. And you know the reason why… It’s the same reason that nicotine companies want to get you addicted to vaping or the cartels want to get you addicted to one of their drugs-Money. And in the case of social media, it’s advertising dollars. The more you scroll, the more money they make… same as a casino and not designed by accident.
1 in 4 children have seen drugs for sale on either FB, Instagram, or Snapchat and well over 50% have witnessed drug use, regardless of the platform.
Because the almighty dollar is and likely always will be the motivation behind the invention, this social business model is unlikely to waver. But there is always a cost. The cost here is YOU and your mental health. Ask yourself this… if you knew that there was something that at some point might cause you or a loved one to sink into depression or anxiety or even self-harm, would you allow them to continue?
Approximately 65-75% of children say they have cyberbullied someone online.
Social media is a part of our lives now and by no means am I advocating for elimination. It wouldn’t do any good if I was. But there are some things I encourage you to do either for yourself or your children:
- Limit screen time.
- Use parental controls.
- Do not sleep and do not let your kids sleep with the phone beside their bed.
- Turn OFF notifications (this is a BIG one).
- If you are an adult, ask teens for permission before you post a pic of them (they will respect you for it).
- Give your children your full attention when they need you instead of being interrupted by your phone.
- And lastly, encourage their worth as a person… not their appearance or their popularity. After all, who you are as a person is a lot more important than the number of followers you have.
By: Derek Osborn