How often have you asked your daughter to accompany you for an evening stroll, and she denied? How often you asked your son to get a few articles from the nearby grocery store, and he procrastinated? Well, the obvious reason most of the time is teenage addiction to social media.
Either your kids are busy hanging out with friends on Facebook or WhatsApp or engrossed in playing one of their violent destructive online games. Isn’t it?
I believe it’s the story of every other family, where their children are constantly preoccupied with social media. Your children like to stay connected to their friends and peers virtually, rather than in reality.
If I had access to Google search data, then I’m sure the most searched question by parents like me and you would have been, “How to stop my kid using social media in excess?” Am I right?
Your kids, preoccupied with their phones, playing video games, and networking on social media, is the most challenging parenting issue, you must be facing these days.
children are no more inclined to play outdoors
It seems like playing outdoors is no more on their daily routine list. As far as I can remember when I was a kid, the word ‘playing’ meant rushing out of the door to meet my friends, swimming, cycling, playing badminton and what not.
Even indoors, we were enthralled to play board games like, chess, scrabble, monopoly, Chinese checkers, and many more. Never did it ever come to my mind that I wanted anything more beyond this, to play and be cheerful.
But can you say the same for your kids today? I guess not. Those previous generation games exist even today, but probably your kids are more inclined to the flashy and catchy world of digital and social media.
Your children are keener to play video games with their virtual friends online rather than socializing with their genuine friends and doing something fun outdoors.
Technology has changed the meaning of childhood
The definition of childhood has suddenly changed where the inclusion of social media in your life is the usual way of living life.
The latest technology, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, internet with a plethora of applications, social media, destructive gaming, and much more, has radically changed the meaning of what childhood is.
Technology and its advancement might not be familiar territory for you and me as we did not grow up with it. But it has become an integral part of yours as well as your children’s lives now. Social media has almost become inseparable from your life.
I am not denying the benefits of social media, but an excess of it can influence youngsters in an unhealthy way.
Table of Contents
Positive effects of social media on teenagers
The purpose of the evolution of technology is to make our life pleasant and more productive. Social media is a rapidly evolving platform for younger people to communicate with others and express themselves to a larger audience.
- Various learning applications on digital platforms expose your children to gain vast amounts of knowledge. This will help them in getting an in-depth understanding of the concepts, interactively too.
- Spending time online will help your children acquire the necessary skills needed for the future. It will allow them to become competent in the digital age, by participating and interacting in the broader society.
- Social media is an excellent platform for your children to express themselves creatively with a huge audience. It helps in boosting their confidence.
- It teaches your children to be independent and have access to educational resources. They can form study groups where they are more enthusiastic to learn from their peers by interacting with them. They can also learn by sharing their ideas and learning materials among themselves.
How social media can be helpful in some more ways
- It gives your children an avenue to stay connected with peers from their sports teams, activity clubs, hobbies, and classes. It helps them to be in-network with people who share similar interests like music, art, dance as well.
- Social media helps your children to acquire a broader perspective on life. It allows them to network with people from around the globe, letting them know about different cultures and ideas that they may not otherwise come across.
- Through social media, your kids can stay in touch with their distant friends and relatives, whom they rarely get to see frequently.
- Social media is a powerful tool that can help your children stay aware of the current events through news feeds. This will help them expand their knowledge and stay updated with the latest happenings around the world.
Negative Effects of social media on teenagers
Having talked enough about the positives, let’s now discuss the main issues which most parents are facing today.
The effects of social media on teenagers are such that it can cause tarnishing impacts on your teen’ s minds. Consequently, it can lead to an unhealthy impact on the physical, mental, and social development of your children.
Impact of social media on teenagers
1. Effect on Physical Health
Introducing technology and social media to your children at a young age can have adverse effects on their relationships with others, and their health in the future. Know how to limit your kids’ screen time on digital devices.
i. Behavioral problems
Your teens, if exposed too early to social media, may often show risky behaviors, such as self-injury, substance use, or eating disorders. They may also not behave properly in public and speak with politeness to others.
II. Sleeping problems
If your children sleep with mobile phones in their rooms, then they are at greater risk for sleep problems. If your teen spends more time on social media, he or she is likely to suffer from sleep disturbances. Exposure to light and stimulating content from the screen can disrupt your child’s sleep, and can also cause eye strain.
2. Effect on Mental Health
Social media can lead your children to social isolation.
- The lingering sense of inadequacy and loneliness are the crucial effects of social media, that can harm your children’s mental health.
- Your children may fall into acute depression, which may sometimes take time to be treated and that too with lots of difficulties.
3. Exposed to certain risks
If you are allowing your kids, at an early age to socialize online, and kids are yearning for their independent space, then chances are there that they might not necessarily understand its complexity and handle it wisely.
- Your kids can innocently post personal information or identities which can be used by sexual predators and will expose them to various threats and risks.
- Your children are often the soft targets for cyber-crime or cyberbullying. They are scared by threatening messages and by posting offensive content.
- Sex offenders may use chat rooms, e-mail, social networking, and online games, to contact and exploit your children.
4. Leads to social Isolation
Teenage addiction to social media, has made them so dependent and preoccupied with it, that it has become almost impossible to keep them separated from their smartphones.
- They spend every spare minute chatting online or through text messages which reduces their ability to socially interact with others outside in the real world.
- If your children are spending most of the time staying connected to others virtually, then they are less likely to spend enough time with the family and their friends in reality.
- Eventually, excessive preoccupation with social media will make them socially isolated.
5. Exposure to inappropriate content
Offensive, explicit, and violent content, which is easily accessible over social media, might not be appropriate for your children to watch. Such content can tune their minds in the wrong manner, or cause them to become mentally disturbed.
As parents, you should be strongly vigilant regarding this, as such content can cause a deep impact on their tender minds.
6. Causes Addiction
The well-known downside of the interaction over social media is the addiction it causes to your children.
- Some attractive features like- ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ often tempt them to be active on their devices and probably this is the reason why teens are more glued to social media as compared to adults.
- This can cause a lot of distraction to your children while they are busy doing some important work. Constant distraction will hamper your children’s productivity in any task they undertake to pursue.
7. Leads to peer comparison
Your teenager refuses to get off their phones, even though it’s remarkably clear that their interactions on the media are making them miserable.
- Not everything which people portray over it is entirely true. The innocent minds of your children don’t understand that most of the posts are exaggerated to create an impression among the peers of the social group.
- The more your children spend time, social networking, the more they are prone to comparisons and more likely to be dissatisfied with their lives. They also become anxious and moody, as they find the lives of their friends better than theirs.
8. A negative effect on school performance
Your children can get so addicted to the media that they spend hours on it, watching and sharing photos, videos, and content. Consequently, they may end up leaving behind other things, such as doing their homework or any other activity for that matter.
9. Can turn your children self-obsessed
Children are brilliantly using their devices to meet their cravings for excitement, privacy, and thrill. One such popular act that gives your children thrill is posting endless updates and selfies on social media.
- Taking selfies every hour and posting it on social media can trigger obsessions with one’s appearance, especially among teen girls.
- Obsession with the self may trigger, in your children, the constant desire to be appreciated on social media. And if they are not, it will lead to various self-esteem and anxiety-related issues in your kids.
Having self-obsessed and living under the notion that everything revolves around them, can cause you kids to become more self-centered, and may lack empathy for others, later in life.
Causes of social media addiction on teenagers
Now comes the big question –
“Is the social media in itself the cause or the parents are equally responsible?”
Before we discuss any further, try to answer the questions given below genuinely:
- Do you let your children do whatever they want only because you want some free time to socialize yourself?
- You leave your children to be on their own, as you have some work to finish and do not want them to disturb you. Don’t you?
- You believe, that social media has become an integral part of yours and your children’s lives and that’s how you are supposed to live. Isn’t it?
- Did you believe that it is normal to be active on social media for your kids until had a realization, that your children are getting involved too much in it?
- You had a notion, that social networking is in this trend as most of the friends of your kids are also doing the same, until it became an obsession for them. Is it so?
Well, if the answer to most of the questions is ‘Yes’, then it’s high time that you realize that as parents you need to make some significant changes in your ways of managing your kids.
But, it’s worth appreciating, that you are a responsible and concerned parent, otherwise you would not have read this article and reached to this extent.
How to deal with teenage social media addiction
Teenage addiction to social media, is such a problem, that should be addressed, the sooner the better. Educate your children to use social media in moderation.
For this, you need to make some minor changes in your children’s as well as your lifestyle.
1. Tune your life first
More than your social media-obsessed children, you should be concerned about tuning out your life first. When you are too absorbed socializing online, the quality of the engagement with your kids goes down, and so does your ability to emotionally relate with your kids’ needs. It hurts your kids’ cognitive and socio-emotional development.
2. Spend Quality time with your kids
Try spending some quality time with your children, by taking an interest and getting involved in their activities. This will bring them close to you and encourage them to share with you all that they want to. This will make them less inclined to socialize online.
Encourage your teen to read books. Here are some best books for teenagers to keep them diverted from social media.
3. Be a role model to your kids
I am not denying the fact that parents are also social human beings, and we all feel the need to socialize. I also cannot forgo the fact that social media has indeed become an inseparable part of our lives.
Using it in moderation is the key to modern parenting. Kids learn, by example, so be a strong role model yourself when it comes to social networking online.
4. Be Vigilant
In the current situation, when kids are all-time home, they are more likely to be tempted to connect with their peers over various social media platforms.
Where you might be busy running errands and with your professional commitments, being watchful and knowing what your kids do and say on their phones will help a lot.
5. Set some ground rules
Educate your children about the pros and cons of it. Set some ground rules and limitations, on what sites they can be on and for how long. Decide on the unplugging time – which applies to everyone in the family.
6. Help them believe in a real-life friendship
Help your children understand that having a large number of friends does not make them cool and popular. Encourage them to engage in real-life communication with people, rather than over social media. Teach them the importance of investing time in real-life friendships.
7. Be a mentor to your Children
If you realize that your child is often upset, keeps checking the phone now and then, expecting ‘likes’ and appreciation, then talk to them about it.
Guide your children on how not to take things to their heart, what happens online. Boost their self-esteem by assuring them that they will always be the most loved ones for you, and they should not be bothered by what happens on social media.
As responsible parents, your kids’ well-being, in every sense, should be your priority. Be a mentor to them by making them learn to use social media in moderation and help them balance their lives.
Krishna is a Management graduate in Human Resource. She is an avid reader, knowledge seeker, and an adoring mother of two lovely kids.