I feel I must put here what I’ve been posting in comments to a number posts elsewhere, ‘what’ being how destructive smart phones and social media have become, primarily among teens and young adults. Not that we more ‘mature’ adults are immune from the lures and traps they represent, but I’d like to think we wouldn’t be affected nearly as much as our kids and grandkids. I’d like to. Really.
This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this here, but I think it bears repeating – If you want to raise healthy kids and teens, ban them from owning smart phones or using social media. (I am going to include tablets in this as well since they are almost as ubiquitous as smart phones.) Once they turn 18 they can indulge to their heart’s desire.
Since the two are intricately linked together I shall refer to them as one or the other while meaning both.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but it seems so many kids, teens, and young adults are addicted to their smart phones and the ‘world’ it represents. The only problem is that world is not real. It is smoke and mirrors, a mirage, a fever dream, an illusion. A lie.
But to too many it appears to be real, to be more important than the real world. They are mesmerized by what’s presented on the screens, believing everything that appears on them. With social media I think some things are amplified. Observations, events, scandals, and disses are of greater import. People will say things on social media they would never say to someone’s face, even if their posts or videos aren’t anonymous. (It’s even worse when such postings are anonymous.)
People lie on social media, particularly when it comes to their lives and how they portray them. They rarely show real life, trying to portray their lives as perfect with never a worry or sorrow. However, as we all know life is rarely like that. But others may not realize that and they see the ‘perfect’ lives of others and wonder why their own is nothing like that. They don’t understand that those they envy are only showing one aspect of their lives, assuming what they are presenting on social media is the true. All too often it isn’t. But those viewing those perfect lives don’t know that and they see their own lives diminished in comparison.
Then there’s the dating apps, something that may have started as a something to help people interested in finding someone with whom to share their lives. These days they are little more than a means for arranging a hookup. They are grossly imbalanced with far more men using them than women...and with far more men being ignored by women. (You can’t tell me so many men being ‘left-swiped’, i.e. rejected, doesn’t have some effect on men.)
So much of social media is being used as a means of validation by men and women (though it seems mostly women) via Twitter/X, Instagram, Snap Chat, Tinder, Match, TikTok, and a host of other social media apps. They all can paint a false narrative, show a world that does not exist (in some cases should not exist), gives people the impression they aren’t good enough because they can’t meet impossible or unrealistic expectations.
All of this affects people, particularly teens, emotionally and psychologically. You can’t convince me that social media hasn’t driven an increase in mental illness among teens and young adults.
It must be said again and again that social media can be a disease driven by the need for validation or the Fear Of Missing Out. It is one we must work to lessen its effects, not by regulating or banning social media since the last thing we need is for government to get involved. It has to be driven by parents, social organizations, religious groups, and peers.
In the mean time it might be a good idea to take away your kid’s smart phone...until they turn 30.