If only they didn’t need those phones. Should there be a phone that was strictly for calling us, letting us know our child’s location, and still made them feel “cool”, we would buy it. For many parents, a child’s smart device- be it a phone, tablet, or laptop, is the bane of our very existence. Social media seems to rule everything- how they spend their time, why they take so many pictures, and how they feel about themselves. No matter how we try to intervene, we cannot seem to convince our children not to be defined by their social media.
In recent years, critics have warned against social media use in our children. Social media can cause depression, anxiety, lead to cyberbullying, contribute to eating disorders, and assist with the sales of illegal drugs. Needless to say, social media can be, and often becomes, problematic. Further research has shown that our young children can become addicted to their digital screens. Numerous studies have revealed that the blue light behind the screens of our devices interrupts with our natural sleep cycles. Brain imaging has revealed that scrolling through the news feed of a social media platform creates a reaction in our brains similar to cocaine. Psychologically, physically, and spiritually, social media raises a threat.
As parents how do we know when too much has become too much? Here are some signs of problematic social media use:
- Change in appearance- following online fashion trends, diet trends, or looking ill. Sleep exhaustion will be evident through faded skin color, sunken eyes, and dark rings.
- Eating habits- they might not eat as often or have become compulsive about their eating.
- Change in hobbies- you might find they become obsessive about the online trends they are following, start acting differently, or abandon things they used to love after receiving criticism online.
Help your child with their complicated and conflicting social media relationship by:
- Encourage more device-free time where the whole family interacts. Choose meaningful activities like planting and tending to a garden, playing games, or creating crafts for the house.
- Take action quickly, if you believe your child’s mental health or wellbeing is being compromised by their social media use. Cyberbullying can lead to self-harm or suicide without any advanced warning.
- Don’t let up on your restrictions regarding social media.
- See a doctor or specialist immediately if there is any sign of danger for your child. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and more are mental illnesses which need treatment.
Refuge Recovery proudly provides families with the tools they need. Addiction is a family disease. Our program offers family intensive programs and family therapy. For more information on our intensive outpatient program, call 323-207-0276.