Enough is enough! What happened when I took away my teen’s social media

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Social Media plays a major role in our children’s lives, and parents around the world are talking about it.

One West Michigan mom saw how it was negatively affecting her child, and decided to do something about it. 

Katie Bowman speaks up…

“I have been trying to think of the best way to approach this because I have only recently  taken his phone and deleted him from social media; less than three weeks ago and there was a lot of pain that came with that decision, mostly from him.

He and I had gone to therapy prior to this, because adolescence is hard, and at our last session with our therapist, (I had taken the phone at this point), we discussed how dopamine is released from the brain when people – both adults and children interact with social media, much the same way when an adult uses alcohol or drugs. This is especially true when they get a “like”, a request to be followed, basically any interaction, and the results for kids are more enhanced because they’re already growing so much during this time period.

Coupled with an influx of hormones, it’s overwhelming. Over a period of time, kids get addicted to these interactions and when you take them away, like I did with my son, there is an actual withdrawal period. Honestly, that period has only recently passed, but it was pretty horrendous to witness in my own child. 

It really made me look differently at social media through the lens of a child.

There are surveys through Instagram stories where you can actually ask and rate how much you like someone, or how much you think someone likes you. These types of surveys are toxic for children, (And this is just my opinion of course) but they’re framing their identities and self esteem based on what someone can just simply swipe on a screen.

Phones and technology today make it so much easier to hide behind meanness and cruelty. A good percentage of what people communicate through online threads or posts are things they would never consider saying to a persons face. Of course adults are guilty of this too, but social media apps are designed for adults who hopefully can walk away from online arguments with perspective, especially if those arguments take place with strangers.

I am not a child psychologist or an expert in the field of how social media truly affects children. Because social media is such a new thing among young people I suspect down the road there will be actual scientific evidence on how it manifests in the growing brain.

Even though it has not been long, I can say that my son appears to be so much happier than when he was on social media. He is less distracted, more focused on school work and doing what normal 13 year old kids do, like play video games, hang out with his family in the evening, finish his homework, in between all his sporting events. He himself realizes social media was at times a source of pain and a major distraction he was not ready for.  

My advice to parents is to withhold social media for as long as possible. Let kids be KIDS for as long as possible. Once you open the social media box, per se, it’s extremely difficult to close.

If parents do choose to allow social media, make sure you “follow” your child and have all of their  social media passwords. Make sure their social media accounts are set to private and to only accept follow requests from people they actually know in real life.

Randomly ask your child for their phone and view their history from time to time. Kids are going to make mistakes and occasionally view and post things they shouldn’t… Use those opportunities to discuss how the Internet is forever and what they say and do now, even at 12 and 13 years old, can impact their future when colleges, sports recruiters or future employers view what they have posted.”

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