Lately, our virtual offices have been full of teenagers complaining their parents are “crazy” and “taking away their technology” after watching Netflix’s documentary, The Social Dilemma. We also have parents calling in a panic that their child is going to commit suicide if they remain on social media.
Needless to say, both teens and parents are shook.
For those who have not yet watched the film, it explores the negative consequences of social media. They focus mainly on social media’s exploitation of users (and their data), the addicting effects it can have, how quickly false information can be spread and its correlation to mental health.
Below are four impressions from a therapist’s perspective:
It would benefit both teens and adults to watch it. The film is full of information and great discussion topics. The more you know, the better you are able to make decisions about your usage.
TEENS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES AFFECTED BY SOCIAL MEDIA
The film was not about a teenager’s use of social media. It was about society as a whole. Parents – If this documentary changed your perspective on social media, then ALL members of the family should be limiting social media usage; including the adults in the house. If you model the behavior, kids are more likely to respect the new rule. ‘“Do as I say and not as I do” doesn’t work.
THE RUSH TO DELETE APPS IS INEFFECTIVE
Like sweets, social media is awesome in moderation. Taking away social media from yourself or your children is a bit extreme, and most likely unsustainable. The focus needs to be on limiting your use of social media and being aware of the possible dangers. It’s all about balance – are you continuing to connect with people outside of social media just as much?
You can have alcohol in your life without it being a problem, or your alcohol use may become problematic. It’s the same with social media.DR. JADE WU
DEPRESSION IS NOT CAUSED BY SOCIAL MEDIA
The film takes the positive correlation between suicide rates data and the invention of social media, and makes it seem as if that correlation is causation and that there are no other possible factors to explain why suicide rates are higher in Gen Z. In fact, most of the current research looking specifically at depression and suicide’s relationship to social media, find a very minimal correlation, if any. One of the latest research studies actually found that an increased use of social media did not predict an increase in depressive symptoms. Interestingly enough, they did find that adolescent girl’s reporting depressive symptoms did engage in more social media usage over time. The cause for this can only be hypothesized, but what we hear from teens with depression is that they are often turning to social media for support and help.
The documentary provides society with some interesting background on how social media targets it’s users, and it’s potentially damaging effects. However, it’s important to emphasize potential.
Blog Post Written BY: Brittany LaFleur