This article is about the rising impact that social media has on your kids and your family. Social media disorder and the scary statistics that are associated with it.
Social media without question has taken over like a plague. The internet, from humble beginnings of single-page websites and a basic email system has emerged into the rapid growing, incredibly dynamic world of endless scroll and fast-paced messaging.
We are touching our phones hundreds to thousands of times a day without hesitation. Spending upwards of 4, 6, 8 hours a day of screen-time!
We have evolved over the last 40,000 years with a brain that is wired to think slow for most of the time and only quick when approached by danger. Nowadays, we are thinking quick every minute of every day, dealing with perceived levels of stress. It’s no wonder there is a mental health crisis with anxiety ridden throughout the veins of our adolescence who are being hit the hardest.
I feel a responsibility as I’m sure you do to ensure that our ourselves and most importantly our youth are not overcome by this social media epidemic.
Why Social Media?
Social media has become a central component for our lives on a global scale. Referring just the Western world, 89-95% of adolescents and young adults use social media according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (1). They reported we consume around two hours per day from just browsing platforms (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tik Tok etc.)
It has many uses but one of the main uses is to create and maintain both online and offline relationships, particularly for our youth. It definitely has it’s uses but….
…has it gone too far though?
I’ve summarised the ‘9 Measure Social Media Disorder Scale’ to give you an understanding if you have a problem and then I will share with you the statistics of why it is both better and worse than you can imagine.
Social Media Disorder Scale
Now this scale has been used to measure the difference between those with on-intense social media use, Intense social media use and also problematic social media use. I’ve summarised the scale to give you an idea of the real questions it asks.
- Preoccupation – do regularly find that you are waiting for your opportunity to use social media again?
- Tolerance – do you feel the need to use social media for longer periods of time and more often?
- Withdrawal – do you feel restless, frustrated or angry if you aren’t able to use social media?
- Persistence – have tried to reduce usage or tried to stop using social media completely and failed?
- Escape – do you regularly use social media to take your mind off your problems or so you don’t have to think about negative feelings?
- Problems – have you created other problems due to your usage of social media e.g., lack of sleep, poor ability to complete tasks?
- Deception – do you regularly lie to your parents, friend and those close to you about the amount of time you spend on social media?
- Displacement – do you regularly devote no attention to people around you or interests in any hobbies or other activities?
- Conflict – have you had serious problems or conflicts with parents, siblings, friends, work colleagues due to spending too much time on social media?
Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Panic
I’m more bringing the scale to your attention to create awareness about the problems associated with social media use if not curbed. There is no need to panic if you fit with a few of them, we are all guilty of at least one of these!
However, it is important that you are able to better monitor your use and keep the screen time as low as you can possibly can for your own benefit.
When Does it Become Problematic; The Statistics
A research group conducted research on adolescents for intense and problematic social media use and their wellbeing from 29 countries and these were the results.
On average, those with intense social media use from countries where intense social media use was common, actually reflected a higher life satisfaction and higher levels of family support than non-intense users. “It reflected social engagement, participation and inclusion rather than risky behaviours”. However, intense users were associated with higher levels of school pressure (2).
Contrary to that, problematic users reported less family support and lower levels of friend than non-problematic users. Problematic users were found to have lower levels of mental, school and social well-being (2).
What Does This Mean For Us?
As you can see, it appears that the world is adjusting to a world of social media as a norm even though our brain evolution may not have. That is unless it becomes a problem that removes us as humans from our lives.
There is something truly special about being in close contact with another human and sharing that genuine connection away from technology. In between these moments, these statistics are indicating that social media plays a major role in keeping us connected.
What Can You Do to Ensure This Doesn’t Become a Problem?
I previously wrote an article about how to how to reduce screen-time which provides alternative solutions.
There are countless apps and techniques to reduce your use of social media, some work and some don’t. Here are two options that I recommend with my clients, one hard and one soft;
The ‘hard’ option, one of the most popular and effective techniques what is a ‘Time Lock Box’ which locks your phone away for a self-selected length of time and can only be opened either by the timer running out or… you smash it open. A very good option to use for getting tough periods of work done or for going to sleep with no distractions!
The ‘soft’ option, use the ‘screen time’ setting in your phone. Analyse the data about how many hours on average you use on your phone a week and set yourself a goal of reducing it but about half an hour a week until you get to a level you are satisfied with.
The most important note in all this is the ability to remain open and conversational to your family and friends in terms of your social media use. Create a safe space and a respected space around social media and ensure you don’t start creating a false narrative around your own personal use, because that’s when the problems start.
Social media is here to stay and it’s important that we respect the presence of it in our lives.
Until next time,