Social Media: You Child is Spending NINE Hours a Day On It!
Social media apps are saturated with porn. Porn is not, however, the only problem. The problems associated with social media, particularly among the generation raised with unfettered access to social media, range from lack of trust to a loss of hope.
Note the lament of a teenager raised in the digital age. While her voice is her own, it’s one familiar to and representative of so many more:
“I have terrible trust issues. Ever since middle school and everybody got their phones. I don’t feel like I can trust anyone.” ~Carrie, 15 year-old teen from Boca Raton, FL.
The book where I found this quote is called, American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, by Nancy Jo Sales. Carrie, and the host of teenage girls studied in this groundbreaking book, goes on to describe the world of Finstas.
Finstas are fake Instagram accounts that middle school aged and younger children create to keep them hidden from their parents.
Do you know if your child has a Finsta?
I discovered the Finsta about two years ago, while researching the topic of porn and teens. I’d encourage you to do the same, particularly if you have preteen or teenage daughters in your home (Finstas seem to be populated primarily by girls).
Welcome to the world of your children. Social Media apps dominate and dictate their external and – we are finding – their internal environment.
Social Media is leading to increased stress and anxiety.
Social Media is also leading to isolation and a feeling of disconnectedness among teens (adults as well).
This stress, anxiety, and disconnect seems to result in a spike in divisiveness and conflict among teenagers, especially girls.
“I feel like saying things on social media is so much easier. But if you say something on Facebook, it hurts the same amount as if the person said it to your face; but that person doesn’t think about it because they’re just typing it on a computer.”
Sales makes the argument, quite persuasively, that the Technology industry is, perhaps unwittingly, in bed with the Porn industry. The Porn industry, of course, confesses openly that without technology their outreach and revenue would be nearly non-existent.
Social Media is Porn’s Super Highway
One might even dub the internet Porn’s Super Highway. Note just a few statistics from studies gathered between 2014 and 2015:
- 1 in 5 Mobile searches are for Porn. (Covenant Eyes, Porn Stats Annual Report 2015).
- Mobile porn is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2015. I’m not sure what the revenue is this year.
- 37% of 3 and 4 year olds use their parent’s tablets and smartphones as do 87% of 5 to 7 year olds. (http://www.familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.html – accessed June 6, 2014).
- A third of 11 to 14 year olds have watched porn on a mobile device. Jonathan Blake, “Mobile porn access ‘damaging’ children and teenagers.”
Sales goes on to make the claim that Silicon Valley, which is the epicenter of technological invention, is infected with a frat-boy, porn-saturated culture at every level. As such, the hub of our technological development is infused with porn-industry ideology. If she’s correct, and she cites an array of data to substantiate her claim, then the outcomes of Silicon Valley’s inventions should concern every one of us!
Studies reveal that many teenagers spend up to 9 hours a day on social media apps. Each app is littered with images that pornify women and distort one’s image of womanhood. Porn, at every level, objectifies women. As such, pornography creates a perspective among our teenage boys and girls that alters how they relate to one another.
There is SOMETHING We Can and MUST Do!
What can be done?
I know that Social Media is here to stay.
So do you.
But, what can we do, as parents, to help free our children (especially our daughters) from the stress and anxiety these apps seem to create?
Let me offer a few pieces of advice:
- Model healthy behavior as it relates to smartphone use. One way to do this is to wait until your children are thirteen to fifteen years of age before you allow them to ‘own’ a smartphone or tablet. This is going to be tough. There’s nothing magical about the ages I’m proposing, but I can tell you that eight is too young and some children have access to them at two or three years old.
- Monitor the devices and screens in your home. Talk openly about your child’s smart phone usage and have access to all their apps, accounts, passwords, etc. Generally, we tend to monitor every part of our children’s lives until it comes to this most important part. You don’t have to be a dictator. Discuss what you expect and want to see happen and get their input.
- Minimize screen/phone input and exposure! Challenge your child (and do this with them) to relinquish their phones for a week. Studies reveal the quite significant, immediate, and positive effects of challenges like this. In my hometown, a teacher challenges her class, yearly, to go without smartphones for a week. The results are encouraging, as this YouTube (https://youtu.be/qrmZ6jLTezk) clip reveals.
A larger study, conducted at UCLA in 2014 found that sixth-graders who went just five days without a smartphone, television, or other screens were significantly better at reading human emotions in face-to-face communication than sixth graders from the same school who continued using their electronic devices (American Girls, page 136).
In some ways, it’s not really what your child is doing on their phone as much as it is that they are on their phones too much.
Disrupting to Renew!