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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Smart Phones and Social Media and Teens

person holding a smart phone with various social networks
Photo credit: Pexels
The Atlantic Monthly published an article this fall by Jean Twenge, author of the book iGen:  Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--And Completely Unprepared for Adulthood (and What That Means for the Rest of Us).

It raises some important issues and cites several studies that point to  the decline in teens having jobs, drivers' licenses, and time spent in face-to-face interaction, and the increase in their use of smart phones and social media.  Many of the studies seem to draw a correlation between time spent on social media and reported unhappiness, and there has been a significant rise in teen depression and suicide, particularly for girls.  While I know teens who are extremely irritated by adults making proclamations about how "all teens today" are one way or another (particularly with regard to use of smart phones and social media), this seems like a trend that is important to pay attention to. 

Are we talking with teens about social media use--not in a judgmental way, but in an open-ended way that recognizes the benefits, but asks them to reflect on how it is making them feel?  Providing them with compelling opportunities to interact face-to-face or be involved in no-screen activities?  Giving parents of younger children information about this stuff, including the importance of kids learning to self-regulate and moderate their own media use?  (Check out the Media Mentor materials created by IFLS a few years ago).  Many libraries are playing this role.  What do we need to do next?  What do you think?

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