3 Things Social Media Is Teaching Teens And What We Can Do About It
I was watching an episode of Broad City not too long ago and in an episode one of the characters is experiencing FOMO. Her friend had gone and gotten a nose piercing. Something very unlike her and the other character was feeling like she had missed out on the experience. She spent the rest of the episode obsessed with the idea of missing out on more.
This is exactly what I think social media is doing to our kids.
Teens are watching their friends show off their latest smartphone, or go to the biggest party. They are viewing a world of vacations, days out, big games, each photo cooler than the last.
The only problem is that it is all fake.
A study found that more than half of millennials have lied about where they are, what they are doing or what they have, by posting something misleading on social media.
For the most part, these fibs are small, making it look like something is more fancy, expensive or exclusive than it actually is. But it is doing more harm than might be expected, because of the things it is teaching our kids.
What Social Media Is Teaching Our Kids
- Everyone is having a better life – It is hard to look at social media posts showing exotic vacations, fancy cars and laughter filled brunches without feeling some twinge of envy. But for many teens, it goes deeper and makes them feel like their life is never going to be as good as what they see on the screen. Moreover, they begin to wonder what is wrong with them…why can’t they be like that. Add that to the boredom created by our always moving tech-advanced world and you have a bad combination.
- Privacy is overrated – My wife has about 3,000 people on her Facebook friends list. Of those people, she knows maybe 200 in real life. It hit me once when I was looking at her page how many random strangers see her pics, her day to day posts, what city she lives in, where she works…everything. Which pushed me to talk to my kids about privacy and knowing who is watching. Their Instagrams were, at that point, public. They didn’t get what the big deal with privacy was. Who cared if some random people saw that my daughter played soccer, or my son loved PC games over console? Needless to say, their accounts are now private.
- We have to be glued to our phones – I make my kids leave their phones at home when we go on our once a week hikes. Why? Because I don’t want them to be glued to their screens the whole time and miss out on what is around us. They used to complain and say they wanted photos for their feed. The compromise was I would let them each take two photos per hike on my phone and send it to them for later. Dad: 1, Instagram: 0.
It’s important that we we take the time to talk to our children about what we see on social media and the reality around us. We can help them to understand the internet and it’s endless amounts of media and social use – giving them a grounded perspective of what’s real and what is just an illusion or partial truth on their social account. Reminding them to focus on reality will help them to maintain a healthy self-esteem and ultimately improve their lives.