Be Conscientious of Time Spent On Social Media

By: Jeff Abell

The use of social media becomes increasingly popular each and every day. It is a habitual part of life for most young people today. With instant access through smart phones, social media can now be reached in an instant, no computer necessary. Although there are many positive aspects of social media, such as access to information and educational tools, there are also many risks that come with its use.

In a 2015 study by Global Web Index, research showed that a person spends an average of 1.72 hours a day on various social media platforms. In the same study it was discovered that the average teenager spends 27 hours per week online.

The use of social media can teach kids to multi-task and help them quickly find answers to questions. It presents an opportunity for kids to share positive information and allows them to cultivate positive, meaningful change when used in a healthy manner. However, there are downsides to the round-the-clock use of smart phones.

A study done at University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research showed that spending too much time on social media can hurt one’s ability to sympathize with others. In a society that’s very competitive and success oriented, people are less likely to slow down to really listen to others. Because some teens are so worried about how they are perceived online, they are not always aware of how their actions might make others feel. This can lead to mean comments, bullying and low self-esteem.

What can we do?

  • Limit time spent on social media and try to cap daily use to a reasonable amount.
  • Pay attention to the messages that are being shared online. Is the information beneficial, true or helpful to others? Does it encourage or hurt others?
  • Be involved in your community by volunteering or serving local organizations. This helps foster real relationships, while helping people around you.
  • Encourage phone calls or meeting up rather than texting.

Make sure the teenagers in your life know the importance of empathy and kindness. Talk about how social media affects their friendships (positively or negatively) and keep an open dialogue on the importance of building in-person relationships through after-school activities or volunteering.

Jeff Abell is the Teen Advisory Council Program Coordinator at Youth Resources of Southwestern Indiana.