What’s your view of social media or media platforms ? As parents you might be a Facebook user, even a WhatsApp aficionado. You may even watch a movie/TV series.However the chances are these are ‘add ons’ rather than central to your life. But this is not so for our children. Read and inwardly digest these following stats.
Teens are spending up to 9 hours a day on social platforms.
30% of all time spent online is now allocated to social media.
60% of social media time is facilitated by a mobile service.
And here is the really worry trend- all these figures are rapidly on the increase.
To my mind it is possible to imagine a time in the not too distant future when these activities and devices will have a bigger influence over our children’s lives that we will as parents. Thats a bold statement I know but cast your mind back to the summer when you asked your teen if he or she would like to come out for a walk and they said no they wanted to stay inside on their phones. Or consider this 1/2 of all pre school children spend on average 8hrs a week online.
What we are also increasingly coming to understand is that these activities are highly addictive and this is something we need to get our heads round. If our teens were smoking dope or drinking alcohol 9 hours a day we would be in total panic yet somehow we treat these activities as benign. Benign they are most certainly not. Every time your child clicks onto one of these sites and reads a message or sees a picture and checks the ‘likes’ or ‘dislikes’ the brain releases a feel good chemical called dopamine. This is the same chemical that the brain releases when you drink, take drugs, gamble or watch porn. It’s highly addictive. The bottom line is that while you’re sitting quietly enjoying the peace and quiet of family life downstairs, your teen is upstairs getting quietly addicted. Try taking a teens phone away and you will more often than not witness full blown withdrawal symptoms.
It is imperative that we get some control over these devices and their use if social media. It is not an option to do nothing. At the very least there needs to be some clear guidelines for their use. How about the following,
1 No phones at meal tables or during family activities.
2 An evening lockdown.