Teens spend an astounding amount of time online these days — upwards of nine hours each day.
In 2018, a Pew study determined that 54 percent of teenagers reported feeling they were “spending too much time on their cellphone” and 45 percent stated they were online “almost constantly.”
What does this staggering amount of time spent online mean for teens? A lot.
Social media is hurting kids and it’s important for parents to understand how and why and — most importantly — that there are ways to keep social media from negatively impacting the next generation.
5 ways social media is hurting kids
- It is making them grow up too soon. Because there is no age-appropriate filter on social media, it means there is no censorship of what’s being posted and who is seeing it. When kids scroll through their feed, they are seeing everything being posted from people they follow (and even from people they don’t follow). Kids are influenced by all ages of people posting, resulting in their growing up quicker than past generations thanks to what they’re being exposed to online.
- Their neurochemistry is negatively affected. Social media has been shown to increase anxiety and depression in kids, as well as reduce empathy. The continuous stream of how people’s lives appear better, easier, less complicated than their own is on constant review. This exposure leads to kids losing their ability to relate to others because they see their peers lives as perfect and theirs being less than.
- It decreases a child’s self esteem and self concept. In a world where people are being constantly inundated with negativity and bullying, a child’s internal concept of themselves is altered because of social media. Using these platforms causes kids to lose their true sense of self and compare who they are to the carefully curated lives of others.
- Social media increases FOMO. Fear of missing out is a very real thing and kids experience it thanks to social media. Because social media is 24/7, kids are constantly living their lives and watching others lives online. No shut down or time off causes a lack of balance and kids start to become obligated to engaging with others and lose necessary downtime.
- Kids experience celebrity fallacy. Celebrities have large followings on social media, and kids take note. Often, because youth follow celebs, they begin to mimic posts in an attempt to get tied into the lives of celebrities and increase their own following. It also causes kids to feel like they are friends with these people and develop a false sense of relationship because they live in the shadow of a celebrity’s life. In addition, it causes kids to yearn for the same life presented by celebrities, which is far from reality.
How you can reduce the harm social media causes
- Limit time on social media. Kids should spend less than two hours a day on social media if they are in middle or high school. If they are in elementary school, social media should be limited to less than one hour a day.
- Make sure they understand the system. Most kids don’t grasp how social media actually works and why. If you explain to them the realities of social media, it helps to make the platforms they use less powerful.
- Engage kids in offline activities that have rewards Sports, music, theater and art all get kids offline and into the real world.