Since the start of the pandemic, over half of Americans have increased their screen time by one hour or more. Screen time, which includes the use of social media, has also continued to rise amongst children and teens. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, out of the 2,000 parents polled, 63% say that their teenagers are using social media more now than they did before the pandemic. In addition, nearly 7-in-10 of the parents surveyed stated that they felt concern that their teens are addicted to social media, and 68% believe social media affects their teens’ ability to socialize normally as well.
While it can be difficult for teens to socialize with their peers in the age of COVID, due to schools either doing fully virtual or hybrid learning at the moment, one thing parents can do is to encourage their teens to do a social media detox from time to time.
As a parent, you’re probably wondering how it is possible to get your teenager to unplug from social media and all the content available directly to them. I get it, I was once a teenager too, but social media wasn’t at the height of its popularity as it is today, and the only social platforms that were around at that time were Myspace and Facebook. So, I wasn’t over stimulated with content like teens are these days. However, I do remember getting anxious whenever I would check to see my rank in a friend’s Top 8 on Myspace. I also recall having body image and comparison issues that stemmed from magazines and mainstream media, which was hard enough when I was growing up. Now, there are more social platforms and teens are continually feeling pressure to post and engage with content from their friends, peers, or brands. Not to mention, the added stress and confusion that teens constantly feel from seeing photoshopped, filtered and edited images on social media that portray unrealistic beauty standards.
Social media can definitely become overwhelming, and it can also take a toll on a teen’s mental health. Read on to see the five main benefits of a social media detox, and why your teen should take advantage of it.
- Gets your teen out of a constant state of comparison. In the social world, the like button is seen as a way to engage with one’s content but in actuality, the like button is a measure of how popular a post is. The more likes a post has, the more validated and superior one can feel. However, the opposite can definitely bruise one’s ego and can easily get them into a state of comparison as well. By having your teen hop off of social media for a few hours a day, it can help them build up their self-worth and self-esteem.
- It helps improve their sleep. According to the study mentioned earlier in this post, 58% of parents say that their teens aren’t sleeping enough due to social media use. By having your teen do a social media detox, it can help improve their sleep, which directly correlates to reduced anxiety and better mental health.
- It boosts their overall mood. Let’s be honest, living in a pandemic is hard but also depressing. With the news cycle constantly reporting on COVID, there is never a shortage of articles about it in your feed. If your teen has been feeling stressed out or anxious about the pandemic lately, encourage them to take a step back from social media by suggesting that they temporarily delete the apps off of their phone. By deleting the social apps, they will feel less inclined to surf the platforms, and in turn are shutting themselves off from the constant stream of news notifications. After a while, this can also help boost their overall mood.
- It frees up their time. Teens spend up to nine hours a day on social media. By having your teen cutback on their social use, it will leave them with more time to focus on school work and even pick up a new hobby or two.
- It teaches them how to stay present. Time always seems to quickly pass by when you’re scrolling through your social feeds. I’m sure that we can all attest to this. By limiting your teen’s screen time, it teaches them how to stay in the present and focus on the moment at hand. However, I feel like this is something we can all incorporate as well. For instance, instead of spending Friday night on the phone, I encourage all families to designate one fun filled team activity per week such as a game night. Social media will always be here, but the moments missed on spending quality family time won’t.