Social Media Impacts On Teens

I imagine at this point most parents hate their teens’ phones. More specifically, they hate the impact that addiction to social media, immediate gratification, constant media consumption, and unending games have on their children. Mayo Clinic’s 2019 article on social media should come at no surprise.

“A 2019 study of more than 6,500 teens in the U.S. indicated that those who spent more than three hours a day using social media might be at heightened risk for mental health problems.”

“A 2016 study of more than 450 teens found that greater social media use, nighttime social media use and emotional investment in social media — such as feeling upset when prevented from logging on — were each linked with worse sleep quality and higher levels of anxiety and depression”

“Another 2019 study of more than 12,000 13- to 16-year-olds in England found that using social media more than three times a day predicted poor mental health and well-being in teens.”

Here’s a link to their full article.

Netflix also just came out with The Social Dilemma, which has fueled the fires of our indignation against big tech.

So what, as parents, should we do?

I won’t spend too much time justifying my reasoning for the following recommendations. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not they’re reasonable.

  • Do not allow phones in the bedrooms. Phones are portals of influence. It’s our jobs as parents to temper the influence of the world on the vulnerable minds of our children.
  • Turn off phones early in the evening–like 2 hours before bedtime early. That will give their minds time to wind down and focus on other things. It will hopefully allow for family interaction too.
  • Avoid introducing social media until 16 unless it’s a joint account with a parent. Even then, I shudder. Let’s face it, dealing with social media as an adult is hard enough. There’s NO reason that a teen under the age of 16 would need to face the dilemmas social media poses.
  • Encourage face-to-face contact with friends. I’ve never seen social anxiety rise so fast as in the wake of quarantine. Social interaction is something that children and teens need to practice–real, like, human interaction without an electronic interface.
  • Talk openly about the motivations they have about things they post and their online activity.
    • “What did you hope people would say about this photo?”
    • “What do you hope people will think about your comment or status update?”
    • “Why is it important for others to know what you are doing?”
    • “Do you feel like others are always watching you? Is that healthy?”
    • “How often do you think about what others are thinking versus what’s actually going on in the world? Your family? Your spiritual life? Your future?”
  • Set regular “sabbaticals” away from the phones–for you and for them. Practice what you preach.
  • Set screen-time limits on every device and stick to them.
  • Encourage your teens to have experiences and NOT post about them. Instead, encourage discussion about events within the family.

If you have other recommendations, please share them!

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