Modern life affects everyone, this includes our children as well as adults. One of the key features of modern life is the digital age, technology and social media. Indeed we can all agree that there are countless ways that technology has improved the lives of many people. However, we cannot ignore the fact that there are some negative effects on our children.
Recent Teen Social Media Patterns
According to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research; teenagers aged 13 to 17 years old have shifted their preferred social media platforms and are now most likely to use Snapchat and Instagram.
Key findings of the survey included the fact that around 76 percent of teenagers use Instagram, 75 per cent use Snapchat, 66 per cent use Facebook, 47 per cent use Twitter, and fewer than 30 per cent use Tumblr, Twitch, or LinkedIn. They also found that although 91 per cent of teens uses regular text messaging, 40 per cent also use messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Kik, or Line.
Social media and text messaging is an integral part of how we interact in the digital age. In fact, for our teenagers and young adults, text messaging and social media communication is now more likely than in-person.
Children and Family – Screen Time Management
As parents, we often struggle to balance family time. Many parents face a constant battle trying to limit their child’s screen time.
The importance of parental monitoring is only heightened by evidence that suggests a link between handheld screen time and speech delays in young children. In addition, research shows an increased connection between mobile device addiction, depression and anxiety in college-age students. Lastly there appears to be an association between exposure to smartphone screens and lower sleep quality.
With all these bits of research, it is important for all families to have screen time management firmly in place.
The Good Part of Screentime
However, it is important to note that all screen time for children is not all bad.
Research examining more than 120,000 adolescents and published in Psychological Science suggests that moderate screen use has no effect on the well-being of teenagers.
Prof. Christopher Ferguson, of Stetson University in DeLand, F explains that screens of various sorts are increasingly embedded in daily life. They involve education, work, socialization, or personal organization. It is almost impossible to separate screen time with modern life.
All these findings can leave parents feeling confused as to how much is too much? As with most things in life, moderation is key.
The emergence of the ‘constant checker’
One of the biggest sources of fear for a teenager is the thought of no internet access. Welcome to the term, the ‘constant checker’. A constant checker is a person who constantly, almost obsessively, checks their emails, texts, and social media accounts.
According to research, being connected in this way has been linked with higher stress levels.
Disconnection from Family and Friends
Furthermore, as a result of technology, constant checkers and excessive digital media users feel disconnected from their families. This is as a result of everyone retreating into their virtual world even when they are in the same room. In addition, more than one-third of constant checkers say that they are unlikely to meet with friends and family in person due to social media.
A recent study led by researchers at Indiana University explored the so-called friendship paradox experienced by users of social media. The friendship paradox finds that people who feel less popular than their friends on social media are less happy. What this study suggests is therefore that happiness is correlated with popularity.
Overall, the research found that users of social media might experience increased levels of social dissatisfaction and unhappiness.
Isolation and Mental Health
The amount of time spent on social media could also affect mental health and therefore needs to be closely monitored; especially in our young adult children.
“This is an important issue to study because mental health problems and social isolation are at epidemic levels among young adults,” said Brian A. Primack, Ph.D., the director of Pitt’s Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health.
We are inherently social creatures, but modern life tends to compartmentalize us instead of bringing us together. While it may seem that social media presents opportunities to connect, in reality, it might be creating more of a void.
In another study conducted by Pitt’s School of Medicine, it was also found that spending extended periods on social media is associated with depression in young adults. Compared with people who checked social media less frequently, frequent checkers were 2.7 times more likely to develop depression.
However, research published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking says that you do not have to quit social media altogether; simply changing your behaviour on social networking sites and taking an occasional break may help to lift your spirits.
Digital connectivity and well-being
As can be expected, many parents are worried about the negative effects of social media on their children.
Modern life may increase the risk of some physical and mental health challenges. It is important to strike a balance between online and offline life as well as spending quality time building real relationships.
For more on how to become a digital-savvy parent be sure to visit the Technology and Parenting Category.