When social media first came around roughly 20 years ago, the initial intent was to allow people to stay more connected to their family and friends. Many things have changed since then.
“This idea of people joining social media sites like Facebook and Instagram was to be able to share what they had going on in their lives and to find out what the people they were close to had going on in theirs,” the Craig County Prevention Planning Team (CPPT) said. “Although there are certainly many positives that can be found in the use of social media, there are concerns as well…especially for our teens today.”
The CPPT is a group of organizations and people who care about Craig’s finest, the young generation and work diligently to help promote programs and provide information to help them and their families succeed in life.
Below are some ways teens are harmed by social media and some ways parents, and teens can help overcome those potential harms, according to CPPT.
Social media can harm:
•The more time spent online means there’s less time available to use real social skills. Simply put, youth are not developing the social skills needed to succeed and excel in life at the same rate as previous generations. While today’s youth are very tech savvy, their ability to develop meaningful relationships is stunted by the amount of time they spend online developing surface relationships with people they may never even meet in real life.
•The more time spent online, the more you expect people to respond instantly. Social media makes responding to things very easy. All one has to do is hit a button or tap a screen. However, if you are the person waiting for that response and it does not come, it can create feelings of anxiety. One may question why the person did not respond. Did you do something to upset them? Are they okay? Expecting instant responses all the time is not reasonable, but the more time you spend on social media, the more you expect the world to work that way.
•The more time spent online, the more likely one can feel left out. It may seem strange to think this, but what is often discovered with social media are all the things someone did not get invited to like a party, concert, movie or even a study group. This too can bring on those feelings of isolation that one heads to social media to get away from to begin with. In fact, frequently, this can cause the feelings of isolation to become more intense.
Dr. Erin Vogel of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, who broadly studies social media, shared that “some of my research and others have found that people who use social media more frequently or intensely tend to have lower self-esteem or depressive symptoms.”
He added that Facebook especially could have a drastic effect on how the younger generations view themselves, therefore causing them to react in ways that they usually would not if speaking to someone in person.
However, the CPPT says that there are other things that can be done. “Start with the basics and don’t over think it,” they said.
•If you want to make changes, start with something as simple as not allowing cell phones at the dinner table or having social media free hours while at home.
•Another simple change is to use an old-school alarm clock instead of a cell phone as an alarm. This allows one to keep the cell phone in a different room at night and removes the temptation to surf social media sites.
•Take a “pholiday!” Look at the calendar and find a long weekend or week where the whole family can disengage from using phones for anything other than making actual phone calls. No texting, social media or surfing the web. “You will be amazed how much better everyone will feel, as well as, how much time is created for yourself and your family,” the CPPT said.
•Schedule something active with family, or friends, that do not include your cell phone. Some examples include: going for a hike, hitting the creek with a fishing pole, playing a board game or even baking a cake.
“Think about the fun you can have with others if you commit to not using your phone for a couple of hours,” CPPT members said. “In the end, social media can be full of positives, but it can also be a place where we can feel even less connected than before, so, try to keep everything in perspective and have fun doing things that do not require cell phones. It will make a difference in your family’s happiness and lives.”