Ever feel like your teen spends more time typing into their digital device than actually talking with — or spending time with — actual, live people? If you do, you’re not alone. The use of social media has boomed over the past few years, leaving many parents shaking their heads and wondering what’s normal — and what’s healthy — when it comes to teen’s digital lives.
When you were a teen, you probably communicated with your peers by talking face-to-face, giving them a call on the phone, or by using a pen and a pencil. Today’s teens live in a very different world; advances in technology and the advent of social media mean that youth are just as likely to be texting, tweeting or communicating through online platforms like Facebook. For some teens, voice mail — and even e-mail — is obsolete!
In fact, a 2012 study from Common Sense Media found that 90% of teens in the U.S. use social media in one form or another. Seventy-five percent have their own profile on at least one social networking site, and one-third of teens visit that site a few times a day… or more.
Given the pervasive nature of social media and technologies such as texting, it’s not hard to see how technology has transformed the ways that teens communicate, as well as how they view the world and themselves. And it’s also easy for parents to wonder exactly how social media affects their child.
Social media’s impact isn’t easily classified as black or white. While some sing its praises, noting the potential for increased creativity and educational applications, others worry about the potential for negative effects on social development and well-being, from online bullying to victimization — and even the fear that kids will transform into texting machines, unable to carry on a normal, face-to-face conversation.
The answers lie somewhere in the middle, and while parents must stay on top of their child’s social media use, it’s also important to accept that this new technology is simply another facet of life for today’s youth. In my next post, I’ll discuss warning signs that social media may be negatively affecting your child.
Dealing with parenting issues such as technology use can be a challenge; professional intervention can help. If you’re seeking a licensed teen psychologist, Littleton therapist Dr. Steven Lazarus is a child psychologist in Littleton, Colorado who can help your family work through these issues together.
Be sure to read part two: