I’ve just been mesmerised for the last 15 minutes watching the above video. What an interesting insight into the way at least two of the founders of Facebook are feeling about the monster they’ve created! It certainly makes you think about what is the real effect of social media on our brains.
I wonder how many of us stop and think about whether spending time on social media is really the best use of our time. And I wonder how many of us could be utilising our precious limited time in far more productive ways that would make us feel much happier in general.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen comments from people who have stopped using Facebook – and some have stopped using all social media platforms – and without fail they all say the same thing. Every single one claims how much happier they are since they made the decision to just turn it off. No exceptions.
The Effect Of Social Media On Our Kids
If we as grown adults find it difficult to switch off from the bombardment of social media, how can we expect our kids, particularly those in their teens, to switch it off? What is the full effect of social media on our children’s brains? We have to remember that most kids are under an immense amount of peer pressure to keep up with their friends on social media, regardless of which platforms they use. Every child wants to fit in socially, and the fear of missing out is very real and very powerful.
I was having a conversation with a friend and mother recently about the effect of social media, and in particular pros and cons of using social media for kids. Whilst the perceived advantages of using social media are clear – fitting in socially, being invited to events, keeping in touch with more people than may otherwise be possible, etc – I’m tending to believe that the drawbacks override the benefits.
My friend explained to me how there was one girl in her daughter’s year in high school who was not using social media. This girl was left out of social events and had very few friends. But I have to wonder what else was going on for her to be in that position.
Obviously there are some kids who just don’t have the social skills that others do. There will always be kids who are more popular than others. Is the fact that this particular girl isn’t on social media the only reason she doesn’t have many friends? Somehow I highly doubt it.
There’s also plenty of evidence showing that kids who don’t have many friends in their offline world also won’t have many in their online world, and vice versa – those who are popular offline are also likely to be popular online.
It’s clear that we need to acknowledge the perceived need our kids feel to be active on social media. However we also need to help them understand the full effect of social media, i.e. that its use has many drawbacks and some of those are very serious. More and more articles are being written lately and research is being done to find that more teens are depressed now ever, and the depression is being directly linked with social media use.
How Can We Help?
No matter how much they may deny it, particularly in their teens, our kids look at our actions and copy what we do for the most part. It may be worth doing your own social experiment and giving up Facebook or whatever social media you use for at least a week if not a month. Try going cold turkey. What better way to find out first hand what the effect of social media is on you? Of course before you start you can let your friends and followers know that you’re OK, you’ll just be away for a short period of time to take a break.
See how you feel within that time. I can almost guarantee that after the first couple of days you’ll feel a whole lot better. You’ll be looking up more and be a lot more aware of your surroundings. You’ll find more quality time to enjoy with your kids and other people which will in turn enhance your relationship with them. You’ll be able to be more mindful and concentrate better on whatever you’re doing, without being worried about what Facebook posts you might be missing out on. Just the thought of it seems like pure bliss!
If you do give it a go and really ditch Facebook for at least a week, I’d love to read about your experience in the comments below. Maybe you’ll be the first to say you missed it and couldn’t wait to get back…although somehow I doubt it!