How to prevent your teen from social media addiction
Prevent your teen from social media addiction: There are positive and negative effects for everything in this world. In the same way, social media also has good and bad effects on teenagers.
Use of everything in a balanced way is good. But, when teenagers spend a lot of time on social media, they could be susceptible to the bad effects of social media.
As we know, excess of anything is bad. That’s why parents should encourage their teenagers to use social media in a balanced manner.
But the question is, while we know most of the bad effects, we are clueless on how to prevent our teens from being addicted to social media.
We have addressed just this! Read on.
Topics Covered in this blog
- Few facts about social media usage
- Why teenagers use social media
- How does one get hooked or addicted to social media?
- 10 common signs to Spot a social media addict
- Few benefits of social media
- Psychological effects of social media on teenagers
- What parents can do to prevent your teen from social media addiction
- TIPS – What worked for me
- An important Note to parents
Few facts about social media usage
- YouTube, Instagram and snapchat are the most popular online platform among teens.
- Facebook no longer commands the top spot among teens.
- Teens coming from lower income households use Facebook more than teens from families with higher income.
- Most teens access social media from their smart phones.
- The percentage of teens in the US who claim that they check their phones constantly has almost doubled in the last 4 years.
There is a researcher who believed that over stimulation of social networking could cause many disorders in teenagers like ADHD, depression, stress, and anxiety.
According to a research, 14-17 year old teens who spend more than 7 hours on social media on daily basis are more likely to be diagnosed with depression as compared to teens who spend less time on their phones.
Why teenagers use social media
To handle any issue, it is always wise to know the ‘why’. That will give us some insight to the root cause and an effective solution can be arrived at easily.
These are the main reasons one uses social media.
- To feel and stay connected to people, friends, family, and peer group and to share information and stay updated
- To kill time, because, they are bored and have nothing else to do.
- In order to feel included and not to feel lonely or isolated or left out. The fear of missing out.
- In order to feel appreciated and rewarded (by way of likes and emojis).
- To express oneself, their views, and opinions and talents. To be heard.
How does one get hooked or addicted to social media?
Have you ever wondered how social media companies stay in business? How they make money?
The answer is the same as that of how companies that make alcohol make money.
They need customers. And, they need to ensure that they hook them up to stay as their customer. More the addicts, better for business.
And it all starts with a small ring of the bell.
- The constant notifications. The tring, the signal. These tempt and makes the teen crave to respond and to check on it.
- These calls for action tests your impulse control and ability to concentrate on a task.
- When you are not able to resist it, you start a journey of checking your phone round the clock.
- You start becoming hyper connected.
- And slowly, what started off as checking the phone when a notification comes, turns into checking the phone wondering why no notification has come.
- You start to post and like to get more attention.
- You feel elated when it gets noticed and likes come in.
- This begins a cycle of psychological craving. Psychological craving is just like any other craving be it chocolate or alcohol.
- You start seeking for more of it. The 1 like that you got initially does not satisfy you anymore. You crave for 10 and then 100…and more.
- When this need is not met, other mental issues start creeping in such as feeling inadequate, isolated, anxiety, depression, body image issues etc… And you get back to engage more to meet your needs…
The cycle continues… And we have in our hand one social media addict…
10 common signs to Spot a social media addict
The list below mentions few of the common signs that you can spot to figure out if your teenager is addicted to social media…
- If you feel your teen is happy spending more time connecting with friends online than offline.
- When schoolwork and grades take a hit.
- If you hear your teen constantly comparing themselves with their online friends.
- When you find that your teen’s, behavior has started changing. They get more moody and irritable or even angry.
- When you see signs that your teen has a negative outlook to their body image. Or they are obsessed with how they look constantly.
- If you find your teen happy to pick the phone and sit in the couch rather than go out for a walk or a ride.
- When they start to fall back on their responsibilities, and the chores they are assigned.
- When they start having sleep problems and you spot them using or checking on their phone even at nights during sleep time.
- They are more competitive, malicious, or jealous of their peers on social media.
- When their risk-taking behavior is on the rise. This is so that, they can get the needed WOW’s and Likes for their posts.
- You can confirm that it is addiction when social media usage starts affecting their every day activities be it school work, poor academic performance or everyday activities at home.
Bonus tip: The first sign I spotted with my second son that got me pull up my sock and intervene before it gets too late was his familiarity with the smartphone.
The speed at which he operated his smartphone. (With experience you tend to get better).
Few benefits of social media
Social media is quite infamous for the negative effects it has on society and young minds.
However, there are few benefits of social media that we should be aware of…
- Helps you stay connected with friends and family.
- Helps you form new connections.
- It helps you voice your views and opinions. Positively express yourself.
- It helps you fight for a cause, spread awareness. Reach a larger audience.
- It gives you the emotional support when needed. (when you state your problems and get suggestions from others)
- Helps you get connected with groups with similar interest or issues.
- It helps you find information, learn and be aware of things.
- It is a platform to showcase talents. Be it art, music, photography or just about anything.
- It serves as a market for small scale industries. Anyone can become an entrepreneur on social media.
Psychological effects of social media on teenagers
Both girls and boys can face the psychological effects of social media. But studies show that teen girls are more likely to succumb to psychological ill effects of social media than teen boys.
Excessive use of Social media is a major cause of mood swings and rude behavior in teenage girls.
However, there are some other psychological effects in teens too as follows.
Excessive use of social media has increased depression among teens these days.
According to a survey in US, teens who spent more time on their phones were more likely to succumb to mental health issues and suicide.
The suicide rates saw an increase in female teens from 2010 to 2015 due to social media causes.
Teens who spend most of their time on non-screen activities are usually healthier physically and mentally than teens who are addicted to on-screen activities due to the amount of time spent on screen and thereby lack of physical activity.
Know more about depression and suicide from our article’s How-to find out if your teenager is battling depression? and How-to find out suicidal tendency in your teen? respectively.
Cyber bullying effects on teens mental health
These days due to use of social media, cyber bullying rate has increase many folds.
In cyberbullying teens face hate, threats, and bad compliments on social media. This usually happens with teens who put their personal information and activities on social media platforms.
As this bullying is visible to many people, teens who are bullied are more likely to be diagnosed with depressive effects and other mental health issues.
Cyberbullying can affect teens’ mental health badly. They can face loneliness, depression, stress, anxiety and in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts.
Increased social comparisons
According to the most recent Pew research, 43% of teens say they feel stress and pressure to post content on social media profiles.
And 26% percent teens say that social media sites make them feel worse about their lives.
As the research shows, social media leads teens to constant comparisons. They compare their life with others.
As a result, these comparisons lead teenagers to low self-esteem and low self-confidence as they feel they don’t have enough or are not good enough. These comparisons are most common in female teens.
Read more about stress and mental health from our articles How-To HELP & EASE stress in your teenager and How to influence your teenager’s mental well-being, respectively.
Lack of sleep
Teens stay up till late at night on social media and as result you can see disturbed sleeping patterns in teenagers.
They do not have adequate sleep as they browse through all night. Moreover, blue light from mobiles arouses neurons that disrupt the process of normal production of melatonin which is a sleep hormone.
As a result, lack of sleep paves way to sleepiness, laziness, physical health issues and moody behavior.
Lack of proper sleep also causes tiredness during waking hours that makes your teen moody and cranky.
Read our article How-To Help & Deal with a teenager mood swings to know more about this.
Lack of physical activities
Teens who spend most of their time on social media usually avoid physical activities.
They love to always stay on their beds and sofas. They don’t participate in physical activities like exercise etc.
Physical activity has numerous benefits. It also boosts self confidence and makes your teen smart.
I want to share the report of a survey with the parents here.
According to a survey of Common-sense media
- 35% teens on social media are worried about being tagged on unattractive photos.
- 27% teens stressed about how the picture they post on social media looks.
- 22% feel bad about their physical appearance when there are no likes on their photos.
From the above numbers, it’s obvious how much social media is affecting our teens’ self-confidence and self-image.
Due to social media comparisons teens also want to build a perfect body image by following others.
When they fail to reach that level, they feel bad about their personalities and this leads to low self-esteem.
When your teen has the right circle of friends a lot of these issues can be handled better. As parents it will be good for you to read our article. How-to help your teen to choose right friends
Indirect communication on social media sites
During online communications teens can’t use their facial expressions and body language to convey messages. This could also lead to a lot of miscommunication
As a result, in real life they usually avoid conversations with real peoples they have around.
Social media and teenagers’ romantic relationships
These days social media give easy access to every person on social media.
Due to easy access teens get into romantic relationships at a very early age. Relationships are part of life of every person but relationships with complete strangers and at a very early age can lead to extremely disastrous situations.
At this age their decisions are usually based on emotions and not on logic. Hence it is very easy for them to fall prey to online sexual predators.
Since you are handling a teen it will be good for you to read our complete guide and exhaustive article How-to Talk to your Teen about Dating and Relationship.
Effect of social media on education of teens
There is no doubt that teens can take help from the internet for their studies, but too much time on Instagram, Facebook, Tik tok, snapchat and other sites can affect teens studies.
When teens spend too much time on social media platforms they are left with very little time for studies.
Moreover, due to so much interest in social media, teens become unable to focus and concentrate on studies.
Does this not sound scary? It sure does to me that is why you should continue to read on to know how to prevent your teen from social media addiction
What parents can do to prevent their teen from social media addiction?
No doubt, as a parent we put so much effort and struggle for our teen’s security, safety, and overall wellbeing.
For this reason, we can’t allow our teens’ mobile phones overcome them and destroy their lives.
That’s why we must do things that can save and prevent our teen from social media addiction.
For this we can do following things.
Watch the time they spend with their mobile phones
It’s a good idea for parents to keep track of the hours teens spend with their mobiles. You can also make a rule of maximum hours that a member can spend on phone.
For example, you can simply say no phone after 9 PM or no phone during family meetings or at family meals.
Engage them with more physical activities
If your teen has an interest in any game or activity, then it’s easy to engage them with that game or activity.
Try to provide sports accessories to teens and encourage them to spend their free time playing outdoor games and physical activities like exercise or gym.
This is a very healthy way to prevent your teen from social media addiction.
Build an open relationship with your teen
When you share a good relationship with your teen you can easily know about things and problems in your teen’s life.
Additionally, when teens are free to talk to their parents, they can discuss any issue with their parents like cyberbullying and stalking etc. on social media.
When you know the problem, you can help your teen and prevent your teen from social media addiction.
Tell them difference between social media life and real life
Teach them there is difference between social media life and real life. Show them what fascinating things online and real things look like.
Also Guide them about virtual friends and real friends. This is very important to prevent your teen from social media addiction.
Tell them the side effects of social media comparisons. Tell them the ways or show them how they can make their life joyful and happy without high standards and without big amounts of money also.
Get to know about your child’s daily routine
The most effective way is to step in to your teens’ world and daily routine. Try to know about their friends on social media or about their relationships.
In that way you can be prepared to spot issues early and prevent your teen from social media addiction.
Tell them side effects of social media
It’s also very important to guide teens about bad effects of social media and how they can avoid these bad effects in advance.
Only few percentages of teens understand that social media can get addictive and can be a bad influence for them.
Acknowledge the good effects of social media also. This will make them more receptive to the bad effects when you highlight them.
Tips – What worked for me
We had few house rules and I have listed the tips that we followed. I hope this helps as you try to prevent your teen from getting addicted to social media.
We believe it worked for us since we see our teens have a good balance between online and offline work.
My elder one came off all social media platform for good (lost interest). He concentrates on cricket and outdoor games.
My second one is least bothered about the number of followers he has. Logs in once a week just to check. Prefers growing his poultry farm and his vegetables and talking to all of us.
- General House rule: No technology during dinner time.
- House Rule: No technology during prayer time.
- Technology free weekend (either Saturday or Sunday 9 AM to 7 PM) once a month.
- Some outings, we call out as technology free outings/ family time. We do this twice a month. We have also tried one technology free vacation.
- Have a press button phone for emergency usage or people to reach you. (number only to the important few).
- Wi-Fi blackout after 10.30 PM to 7 AM (it can be 8 PM, but my hubby is the culprit).
- Teenagers were given only pre-paid connection. Bill from their allowance.
- Cell phone basket where all in family place cell phone before going to sleep. Its in the living room.
- Common desktop in living room area connected to LAN cable for schoolwork and assignments after 10.30 PM.
- And I personally haven’t been using a smartphone for more than a year now). Helps me in my life balance.
You can read more about other parenting challenges I have faced, and practical and simple solutions based on my experiences from my other teenagers related article. Browse thought -> Parenting challenges faced while raising teenagers.
An important Note to parents
Here I want to tell an important note for parents. As a parent whenever I face issues regarding to social media, I initially tried and took off my teens’ mobile and never gave it back to them again.
But then I realized it’s not going to help me at all. It was causing a lot of frictions and was not really helping to prevent my teen from social media addiction
You can’t completely restrict your teens from going online. These days there are so many things related to their studies that are on their phones and computers. Moreover, social media has some pros, too!
But the one thing we can do as a parent is to provide proper guidance to our teens about effective use of social media.
Tell them all the good and bad effects of their phones and observe the time your teens spend with their phones. Give them roots of responsibilities and wings of freedom.
VIDEO TIME : Our Pick for you to get an expert view….
At the end I just want to conclude things by saying that excess of everything is bad.
To prevent your teen from social media addiction. It is important that we also follow the same things we expect our teens to do. Children learn from what they see, not from what they just hear.
It is a sacrifice and an inconvenience. No doubts about it.
But then, it is only for a short period of time and the benefits of it will be reaped many times over. You will have one happy well connected and bonded family at the end of it.
If this article has been of help to you, do show love by sharing with your friends and family.
Let us know some of the tactics you have used to prevent your teen from social media addiction. Leave your comments below.
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