“During these angsty teenage years, teens are programmed to want to belong and they naturally compare themselves to others,” she says. “When they see an image on Instagram, their reaction is to think that this person is happier than them because they are wearing the right things or because they have a certain weight. They cannot fully understand that these images are orchestrated, not reality. ”
Interactions on social media can create serious anxiety in the brains of adolescents, she adds.
“None of us are immune to this feeling of comparing ourselves to other people’s images or having to check for comments or likes on our posts. The difference is, if you are confident and comfortable with who you are as an adult, you may see that the numbers on your social media don’t match the value you have as a person. Whereas for a teenager, it is absolutely how he feels.
She is also concerned about the increasing use of phones and tablets for studying, learning, interacting with friends and shopping. These problems have also been exacerbated by the pandemic, which has seen an explosion of mental health problems among children, one in six now suffering from a diagnosable illness, up from one in nine in 2017.
The combination of home schooling via computers and physical isolation from friends has led young people to spend more screen time than ever before.
“We live in a world of constant notifications and constant interruptions in our thoughts. So many schools now expect homework to be done on an app and we make kids always be on devices, ”says Baker.
“The problem is, if you have social media apps loaded on that device as well, it’s next to impossible for a youngster to ignore notifications – which are designed to attract us. They can be dragged into a rabbit hole and lose 20 minutes before they even realize what happened.
So if social media is so bad, is it time for all parents to follow Baker’s lead and abandon them?
“Teenagers are much more likely to do what they see than what we say,” says Baker, whose own children are 21 and 18. phone is always with you – so they see this as a normal part of life.
“If we want our kids to model good use of social media, we need to look at what we are doing and what behavior we are modeling. “
She admits that she has often been guilty of not following this advice herself.
“I certainly had conversations with my own teenagers, where I said, ‘You’re still on the phone! And they said, “Well mom, you always check your ‘work emails’, with big sarcasm.”
The lockdown also hasn’t helped parents keep phones at bay.