Just last night I was chatting with my babysitter about how much more complicated life is today for teenagers, with the prevalence of social media. When I was in high school and college, there was no way for my peers to post unsolicited photos of me online, no means for anyone to be bullied in such a permanent and public way. I can't help but worry about my young children's futures and how social media will impact them, if it is already such a force for today's teens.
New research adds fuel to the fire of my concerns, finding that when kids between the ages of 10 and 15 spend just one hour a day on social media, they are more unhappy. The report, "Social Media Use and Children's Wellbeing," published by IZA Institute of Labor Economics, looked at the effects of being online on kids in Britain from 2010 through 2014.
"Spending one hour a day chatting on social networks reduces the probability of being completely satisfied with life overall by approximately 14 percentage points," the study's authors say. They surmise cyberbullying, an increase in comparisons, and a decrease in real-life, face-to-face activities are the likely culprits for why kids' well-being is adversely affected by the likes of Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.
Of course, this finding is especially troubling given how much time kids spend online and the inevitability of social media being part of their lives, for the good and the bad. So what is a parent to do to keep their kids from suffering in an increasingly social media-based world?
We reached out to Rebecca Baum, M.D., Chief of the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, to get some tips.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.