By Jason Shaw, MEd., LPC
Social media can be great for connecting with family and friends. However, we need to be aware of the negative impact it can have on us, our kids, and our family.
Let’s talk about the dangers of social media and electronics and how we can set healthy boundaries for ourselves as well as our families.
The first step in setting healthy boundaries begins by being a role model for your family to follow. This includes being mindful of the amount of time we spend on social media and using electronics.
Part of being mindful means practicing healthy habits to help us better connect with our family and improve our relationships.
Here are some interesting facts about electronic and social media use (1):
•Children between the ages of 2 and 3 watch on average 2-3 hours of media per day
•Adolescents watch between 6-9 hours of media per day; 4-6 hours are on a screen media (gaming, internet, TV)
•Increase in obesity of 10% in the ’80s to 20% in 2016
•½ of all meals and calories consumed are in front of a screen.
•Those who used social media more often were more likely to suffer from sleep disturbances, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression
•Using social media at night was explicitly linked to sleep disturbances
What Happens When It’s Too Much
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram produce the same neural circuitry that is caused by gambling and recreational drugs to keep consumers using their products as much as possible.
Studies have shown that the constant stream of retweets, likes, and shares from these sites have affected the brain’s reward area to trigger the same kind of chemical reaction as other drugs, such as cocaine.
Neuroscientists have compared social media interaction to a syringe of dopamine being injected straight into the system.
How You Can Change the Dynamics in Your Home
You can make changes in your own home and replace screen time with quality family time.
Here are several family time activities you can begin today:
• Face to face time
• Asking questions about dreams and goals
• Puzzles or games
• Family project (gardening, playhouse, yard art)
• Read a book and then watch the movie
• Learn a language or create your own family language
• Develop a new hobby, tradition, or silly routine
Social media use and family time are all about moderation.
A useful guide is to ensure you have at least one hour a day comprised of various quality moments of connection between you and your child. It can be on a car ride, at mealtime, or finding something unique that works for your family.
As a whole, we can do better at setting healthy boundaries regarding social media and electronics. We can teach our children how to set healthy boundaries in an ever-evolving technological age.
1: https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/social-media-addiction/ and https://www.commonsensemedia.org/
Lunch N Learn
New Horizons’ STAR Counseling Program provides ‘Lunch N Learn’ opportunities for STAR families and community members to talk about relevant topics that families are facing and enjoy a lunch we provide.
Want more tips on helping your kids and family? Try these:
Creating Time for Your Kids: Simple Ways to Connect
Working through Anger: A Healthy Part of Life
Parenting Tips to Help with Homework Time