Back in 2012, Common Social Media, the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology, For Digital Marketing Agency Check Vivid Digital,published a groundbreaking survey examining the use of technology and social media among young people ages 13 to 17. The results were shocking in terms of how much children were immersed in technology six years ago.
CSM just published the results of their 2018 follow-up survey and, not surprisingly, the presence and impact (both positive and negative) has increased. The teens surveyed in this new survey are the first to have been raised from birth with the Internet, smartphones, and social media.
Every parent, educator, and young person should read the results of the survey and ask tough questions about their relationship to technology and social media. Further, they should look at how tech and social media both help and hurt psychologically and emotionally, socially, and academically.
As I’ve noted in a recent blog post (hopefully, more Paul Revere than Chicken Little), I believe that the costs of excessive use of tech and social media hurt children (and adults) immensely. The problem is that the harm is insidious, unlike, say, the opioid epidemic, so people are slow to notice. It’s like the metaphor of the frog that is placed in a pot of water that is gradually heated to boiling. It doesn’t notice that it’s getting cooked until it’s too late.
I’m not saying that tech and social media are evil and should be vanquished from the earth. To the contrary, I believe they can be powerful and positive tools for connection, learning, and growth. Unfortunately, as some of the results of the CSM survey indicate, overuse and misuse of tech and social media will hurt children and adults personally and socially. And, as we have seen in the last few years, it can do significant harm to our culture as well.