The Meta Hub and Parent Guide: How to Protect Your Teen from Online Safety and Other Misconceptions in the Presence of Disturbing Content
The urgent need for reform of online spaces is underscored by this report. “Without oversight, TikTok’s opaque platform will continue to profit by serving its users – children as young as 13, remember – increasingly intense and distressing content without checks, resources or support.”
Michela Menting, a digital security director at market research firm ABI Research, agreed that social media platforms are “offering very little of substance to counter the ills their platforms incur.” She said that the solutions put the onus on guardian to set up various parental controls, such as blocking access and keeping things out of the way.
In response the company refreshed its Safety Center, where parents can find information about how to turn on their safety settings and how to talk to their teens about online safety. Some existing parental control tools include an option to prohibit a minor from receiving a friend request or a direct message from someone they don’t know.
After the fallout from the leaked documents, Meta-owned Instagram paused its much-criticized plan to release a version of Instagram for kids under age 13 and focused on making its main service safer for young users.
The hub gives a guide to Meta’s parental supervision tools to assist parents with talking about virtual reality with their teens. Guardians can see which accounts their teens have blocked and access supervision tools, as well as approve their teen’s download or purchase of an app that is blocked by default based on its rating, or block specific apps that may be inappropriate for their teen.
One of the features encourages users to take a break from the app, such as suggesting they take a deep breath, write something down, check a to-do list or listen to a song after an allotted amount of time. Instagram also said it’s taking a “stricter approach” to the content it recommends to teens and will actively nudge them toward different topics, such as architecture and travel destinations, if they’ve been dwelling on any type of content for too long.
The hub and parent guide was created to give more insight into how teens use the app, without divulging the content of the conversations. To use the feature, teens have to give permission, and parents have to create their own account.
How Safe is TikToks, a Safety-Preserving Mobile App for Videos Rejection and Response to Public Discussions?
According to the company, they will continue to add safety features and consider feedback from policymakers, safety and mental health advocates and others to improve the tools over time.
In July, TikTok introduced new ways for them to remove mature and potentially problematic videos. The new safeguards allocated a “maturity score” to videos detected as potentially containing mature or complex themes. It put out a tool to help people decide the amount of time they spend on TikToks. The tool lets users set regular screen time breaks, and provides a dashboard that details the number of times they opened the app, a breakdown of daytime and nighttime usage and more.
The app has restrictions on access for younger users in addition to parental controls. A pop-up also surfaces when teens under the age of 16 are ready to publish their first video, asking them to choose who can watch the video. Push notifications are not permitted for users under the age of 16.
Discord did not appear before the Senate last year but the popular messaging platform has faced criticism over difficulty reporting problematic content and the ability of strangers to get in touch with young users.
It is possible to connect with strangers on a public server if someone else invited you in the room or if the user drops the channel link into a public group. Users of any age can receive friend invitations from anyone in the same server, which opens up the ability for them to send private messages.
“The wait time to find a community promoting suicide and eating disorder,” a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH)
In a report published Wednesday, the non-profit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) found that it can take less than three minutes after signing up for a TikTok account to see content related to suicide and about five more minutes to find a community promoting eating disorder content.
The results are a nightmare, for parents and young people alike, as their feeds are bombarded with harmful, harrowing content that can impact their understanding of the world around them and their physical and mental health.
The study depicts an inaccurate depiction of the viewing experience on the platform, including a small sample size, the restricted 30-minute window for testing, and the way the accounts scrolled past unrelated topics.
The Tik Tok spokesman told CNN that the experience doesn’t reflect real behavior or experiences of real people. “We regularly consult with health experts, remove violations of our policies, and provide access to supportive resources for anyone in need. We focus on fostering a safe and comfortable space for everyone, regardless of who they are or what topic they are interested in, including people who choose to educate others or share their recovery journeys.
The spokesperson said the CCDH does not distinguish between positive and negative videos on given topics, adding that people often share empowering stories about eating disorder recovery.
This isn’t the first time social media algorithms have been tested. After being registered as a 13 year-old girl, US Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s staff set up an account on the photo-sharing website to follow diet and pro-eating disorder accounts. The senator told CNN that the young teenage account was recommended to follow more extreme accounts.
When someone searches for banned words such as #self harm, they will not be able to see results, and instead will be directed to local support resources.
What Are the Symptoms of Social-Media Addiction? How Should We Continue to Use It? A Conversation with Real Experts on “Chasing Life”
Nine symptoms of addiction are used to define social-media addiction, which is something that is not yet recognized in a diagnostic manual. For example, one symptom is preoccupation, when someone thinks constantly about the moment that they can use social media again. One can also call it withdrawal. It’s when a person feels stressed because they can’t use social media. Another example is when someone takes out important activities to use social media. They forget school work or lose interest in hobbies. Social-media use is defined as problematic when at least 6 symptoms of addiction are present. The research I conducted shows how the relationship between problematic use of social media and the regularity of it relates to adolescent well-being.
I want to say that intensive use is not of concern. In another study, we distinguished between three groups: normative users, who show one or no symptoms; at-risk users, who show 2–5 addiction symptoms; and problematic users, who show 6–9 symptoms2. In the Netherlands, about 30% of youngsters are in the middle at-risk group. These adolescents experience a lot of problems with school, sleep and mental health. We can say from our research that the more symptoms of addiction that an adolescent has, the higher the probability of experiencing these issues. Although problematic use is low, there is still reason to be concerned with a few symptoms present.
There were different findings for other well-being indicators. For example, in countries where intensive use was common, because the percentage of intensive users was high in the adolescent population, intensive users reported more life satisfaction than did non-intensive users. Less life satisfaction is reported by intensive users in countries where intensive use is rare.
There is no denying – or escaping – this one simple but far-reaching fact: Americans are surrounded by screens. As a doctor, journalist, and dad, I worry most for teens coming of age in a screen- infused world. Technology certainly makes our lives easier (and more fun), but at what cost to our health?
In the new season of the podcast “Chasing Life” – my most personal yet – I explore how technology affects brains, especially developing brains, and what we can or should do about it. I am talking to real experts on my show, something I never did before, and I am speaking to each of my kids.
How to be Smart: Talking with My Daughters and Grandsons on Screens During the First Year of Parenting (revised)
A couple of statistics jumped out at me: About two years ago, roughly 85% of US adults reported being online at least daily, with 31% saying they were online “almost constantly.” And as of last spring, for teens, the numbers were even higher: A stunning 97% report being online every day, with 46% saying they’re online almost constantly, according to Pew Research Center surveys.
Those numbers are worrying but not surprising. We need to use our screens a lot for school and work. But we also do things for fun, like killing time on TikTok or doom-scrolling the news. We all communicate throughout the day in text, chat and snap. It is easy to be on our screens a lot.
I started this journey by talking with each of my daughters, all proud digital natives and Gen Zers: Sage, 17, Sky, 15, and Soleil, 13 – in my tiny basement studio. If you don’t have a podcast, then I highly recommend sitting down with loved ones and having face-to-face conversations on any important topic. You will learn so much!)
I am no exception, as most parents believe their kids are smart. I found our conversations to be very thoughtful, with good insights. They didn’t hold back.
My Mum and Dad Aren’t Smartphones! Why I Don’t I Use Social Media? What I Should Have Done About It?
And she’s right: It would be hard and isolating, especially for a young person, to be completely off everything. Sage also said she couldn’t see herself still using social media like Snapchat at age 20, 30 or 40, because that would be “embarrassing” – but she can’t envision using another platform to communicate, either.
Sky told me she’s happy with how she manages her time: spending about three hours a day on social media, texting and playing games. I was surprised that she let it interfere with her sleep in the weekends, but she assures me that it isn’t something she does on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays.
When I asked my youngest, Soleil, about whether it was a good thing or a bad thing to grow up with all this technology, she answered like a Zen master: “I just think it’s a thing. I don’t think it’s a good or bad thing. There is not much that can be done about it. It’s just a thing.” She reminded me that this was the one she was handed, not the one she would have chosen.
All three of my daughters told me they would’ve preferred the Millennial childhood, where cell phones existed, but not smartphones or social media. These platforms, they tell me, create an obligation to engage, more than a desire. I asked the woman if she wanted to let her friends down.
My daughters all think today’s teens and those of future generations will have to figure out how to control themselves, just as people do around temptations like chocolate and potato chips.
I also learned what they think about my and my wife, Rebecca’s, parenting decisions around screens. The Gupta house rules made the kids wait until middle school before they were given a phone. We have access to their social media accounts and set time limits. When we cook family dinners, we put everyone’s phone away so that they don’t hear it.
But now, after having talked to my daughters and quite a few experts, I question whether we provided the proper guardrails. I would not give my keys to a young person who had only been granted a permit. I’m unsure if I did the digital equivalent.
Talking about limits makes me feel vulnerable. I constantly ask myself, am I doing the right thing? Is it a good idea to be a good dad? Am I too strict or too much of a pushover?
I am used to having the data to back up my beliefs, but this is one area where I don’t. These are new waters for a lot of people and parents. There isn’t a handbook or agreed-upon best practices. Many of the questions haven’t been formulated yet, because the studies haven’t been done. There are five new questions when we get a handle on one. It’s like a hydra, the mythical water serpent that grows two new heads for each one cut off.
My parents imposed their 1940s Indian culture on my brother and I when we were young, and I fear the same thing for my children and their current situation. To us, it felt like their antiquated beliefs were woefully out of step.
But on the other hand, as a parent, it unnerves me that I can’t rely on that very thing: my own experience. We usually find reference points to help guide us in making our own decisions in our families, regardless of what we choose to do. I can’t say “This is the way we Used to do it when I was a kid” because nothing existed back then.
What Happens When Social Media Has Changed Our Brains? The Truth About Social Media Effects Teen Self-Suicides and Mental Health
There are some sobering statistics. In the past year, nearly 1 in 3 teen girls reports seriously considering suicide. One in 5 teens identifying as LGBTQ+ say they attempted suicide in that time. Depression rates for all teens doubled over the course of a decade. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. What is the question?
“Our brains, our bodies, and our society have been evolving together to shape human development for millennia… The American Psychological Association’s chief science officer told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that portable technology and social media platforms have changed the course of evolution in 60,000 years. We are not completely sure how this may affect youth development.
Humans are social creatures, and we learn through social interaction. Studies have shown that children’s interactions with peers have long-term effects on their health and well-being, even 40 years later. These effects are stronger than the effects of children’s IQ, socioeconomic status, and educational attainment.”
This helps explain why social media platforms have grown so big in a relatively short period of time. But is the kind of social interaction they offer healthy?
The right kind, you ask. According to the author, this is interactions and relationship-building that is characterized by support, emotional intimacy, disclosure, positive regard, reliable alliance and trust.
What social media can teach us about the brain and how to take our lives seriously: How social media affects teenagers’ brains: a case study of a girl who took her own life
What’s more, Prinstein pointed out, for many marginalized teens, “digital platforms provide an important space for self-discovery and expression” and can help them forge meaningful relationships that may buffer and protect them from the effects of stress.
That’s because, as children enter puberty, the areas of the brain “associated with our craving for ‘social rewards,’ such as visibility, attention, and positive feedback from peers” tend to develop well before the bits of the brain “involved in our ability to inhibit our behavior, and resist temptations,” Prinstein said. Social media platforms that reward teens with likes and followers can make them crave it.
The content on social media sites depicts these behaviors, but teaches people how to engage in them, how to conceal their actions from adults, and how to feel safe with less risky behavior.
“The areas of the brain that are activated by the use of social media are related to the areas of the brain that are involved in addictions to illegal and dangerous substances,” he said.
Discrimination against racial, ethnic, gender and sexual minorities is a frequent problem online and often targeted by young people. There is a heightened level of threats and harassment on social media for youth of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual persuasion.
And online bullying can take a terrible physical toll, Prinstein said: “Brain scans of adults and youths reveal that online harassment activates the same regions of the brain that respond to physical pain and trigger a cascade of reactions that replicate physical assault and create physical and mental health damage.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “youth who report any involvement with bullying behavior are more likely to report high levels of suicide-related behavior than youth who do not report any involvement with bullying behavior.”
A video of a 14-year-old New Jersey girl being attacked by her peers at school was posted on social media and she took her own life.
When I started scrolling, I realized how much I didn’t stop scrolling and what I needed to do next. His story about a student in college
Even adults feel it. We go onto social media and compare ourselves to everyone else out there, from the sunsets in our vacation pics to our waistlines – but especially our waistlines and how we look, or feel we should look, based on who’s getting “likes” and who’s not. Teens can be impacted by such comparisons.
“Psychological science demonstrates that exposure to this online content is associated with lower self-image and distorted body perceptions among young people. This exposure creates risk factors for eating disorders, and can cause depression as well.
According to research, adolescents who are on screens before bed can not get the sleep they need. Poor sleep can be linked to so many problems, such as bad mental health, poor performance in school and trouble regulating stress. The size of the brains of youths may be affected by their preoccupation with technology and social media.
When I was scrolling for hours not going to sleep and it was taking hours out of my day, that was when it really began to wear on me. I wasn’t really doing much else in my free time,” he explained.
The story I’m about to tell you will sound typical at first. It’s about a student in college. He was working on his homework, but he wasn’t studying for exams. He didn’t hang out with his friends.
I’m going to stop watching TikTok and I won’t stop. It’s a story about a young man trying to become an influencer
It was difficult to stop. It was difficult to say I’ve seen enough, because there isn’t enough on TikTok. There’s no winning on TikTok. There’s no end point. So you just keep going.
It needs to be half an hour to an hour when I wake up and then another 2 hours during the day, and then an additional 6 hours a day if I have more free time.
It is the journey of saying, “this is my TikTok account.” I don’t have any followers. I am going to post so that someone can see it because there is only me and my friends on here. Because that’s how the TikTok algorithm works.
This was a story of a young man with big dreams of becoming an influencer, a Tik Tok star. But the story also has a typical ending, and it’s not a happy one. Jerome’s videos did not take off and that was frustrating. The scrolling was just causing a downward spiral.
I was simply watching, just scrolling, just kind of just droning on through endless content. I became less of a creative and more of a cynic when that happened. All I would be doing is just reviewing content. I would see it I would be amused that I could be funnier. Or, Oh, they’re not even that good.
Jerome’s Journey Down the Rabbit Hole: What I Worried about Growing Up in a New Era, When I Couldn’t Get Away
Jerome says something deep inside of him stirred. Maybe it was the idea to just look up from his phone and see the world around him. It was like emerging from a fog.
It wasn’t until I started taking time away from the app that I realized that I wasn’t unattractive, I wasn’t unsuccessful, I wasn’t, you know, unpopular. It was just the fact that I was comparing myself to the ideals of the other forms.
That. That is the thing that really stuck with me about Jerome’s story. How innocently it all started. As a father of three daughters, I can’t help but think about how I can keep my daughters from going to that same place. Look, I see how much they enjoy the app. I do see the appeal. Heck, we’ve even made videos together. But here’s what worries me. As much as I work hard to protect them, in their real world, I do worry about their digital world and what might happen to my girls when they don’t have as many rules or supervision. My oldest, Sage, is about to head to college, which means soon she will be the same age Jerome was when this all happened to him. Is it possible the same thing could happen to her? Thankfully, Jerome managed to figure it out on his own. I know that not everyone can do that. In fact, sometimes it gets so bad people need medical help.
It is there to help children and families who have been going down the rabbit hole in terms of gaming, social media and information bingeing.
Chasing Life: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, MD, CMI, DAMA, Digital Lab at Boston Children’s
We’re in a brave new world that we’re going to have to figure out as we go along. And it’s not even generational anymore. I worry about my younger sibling because this environment is evolving so rapidly and he is 17 years old.
I have questions, many, many questions. How much screen time is too much? What are the warning signs? Things are not going well. What can you do about it? And he has lots of tips for kids and for parents and really for anyone trying to navigate this new world. I’m Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent. And this is Chasing Life.
Before the lockdown and we went to virtual visits. I had a 30% no show rate for kids who were having trouble using their media because their parents would not show up until the night before or the morning of the visit to the doctor’s office. The kids would say, “No, I’m out of here.” As soon as we went virtual, our no show rate dropped to zero because they’re comfortable in this environment.
After his career in film, Dr. Rich co-founded and now co-directs the Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders in Boston. The clinic is one of the few that was founded in the country. Dr. Rich is also the director of the digital lab at Boston Children’s, which gets funding from social media companies. Now, I had never heard of any of this before. So I decided to start at the beginning.
Why do parents want their kids to be on a screen? A new perspective on the issue of pain for parents: An empathetic assessment of the behavior of their children
The film industry was where I spent my formative years. You know, I love Screen Media, but I also respect it, you know? And I think that in any great love affair, there’s a deep respect as well.
When a parent brings their child in to see someone like you, they’re doing it because they’re worried. I mean, if a parent is taking their child to see the doctor, period, and leave alone for something like this, it’s because they’re worried. You know, they’ve been having pain, they’ve been unable to keep food down, whatever it may be. They’re coming into you with a concern. What is the worry? Exactly. I think my kid is spending so much time on a screen that it’s a problem. Is that what?
Well, what the parents see is the young person essentially withdrawing from various aspects of her or his life. You know, they are not getting up for school. Sometimes they’re staying up all night gaming or on social media or whatever. They see the young person withdrawing most acutely from them. The kid is in their room. A kid is on a screen. You know, instead of having meals together, instead of just spending time with the family. I believe that’s the point of pain for parents.
Is Social Media a Cause of Anxiety or Depression? How Do You Feel? What Do You See? Why Do Kids See? What Are They Trying to Tell Us?
Do you define for the patient and or the family what is too much, what is abnormal in this world? There are normal limits in medicine. That’s how the lab results are obtained. What is within normal limits here?
When their function is impaired in some way, that’s the problem. They’re not getting enough sleep. They are consuming too much. They are missing school or falling asleep in school. They are withdrawing from their friends. One thing I do in the first visit with these young people, if they will allow me through the armor, is try to identify their pain points so I can help them get back on their feet. I wish I had more friends, etc. rather than having some ideal that sort of says over x number of hours is problematic, is impairing your life. I want to look at the way in which they live from the time they wake up to the time they sleep. How are you feeling today in your life? How are you doing? Are you getting grades in school that are reflective of your capabilities? And almost invariably they’ll say no. We will explore why that may be.
Yes, it would be TV watching or things like eating disorders, substance use disorders of various kinds. And what it has in common with those is that these are behaviors that are trying to make them feel better or feel more in control of things. I don’t think social media is a cause of anxiety or depression, as it has been framed by some so much as it is an enhancer of anxiety and depression, that might or might not happen at this stage of life. What the interactive media environment does for them is it provides them a place where those anxieties, depression, etc. can kind of manifest themselves even more, even if they were not noticed otherwise.
If you were seeing someone in a world where there was less screen time and more social media, you might want to take them out of the picture. 15 years ago. I wonder if you knew what 20 years ago? Would that child still be seeing you? TV watching, hyper binge activity, and ex would be the types of things that would be done instead of social media.
Why are screens addictive? Dr. Rich argues that addiction should not be viewed as a “pejorative” phenomenon and why we don’t think so
Dr. Rich doesn’t think it’s optimal to describe screens as addictive. Why? We need screens just the same as we need food.
And that’s why I sort of move away from addiction as a model, because we as a society use the term addiction as pejorative. We think of addicts as weak people with weak character, etc., and we approach addiction, frankly, still as something to be punished rather than healed. These kids do have certainly short term problems withdrawing from these behaviors. But when one understands that it is not the behavior doing something to the young person, but the young person seeking out and pursuing this behavior because it makes her or him feel better because it is alleviating their anxiety or it is helping them who have ADHD and have spent the entire school day feeling behind Clueless, you know, like they’re dumb. They cannot stay on top of a conversation in their social interactions. A group of people are at home and play a game in front of a screen. And not only are they in control of that universe, but in many ways they are better than so-called neurotypical kids at a game that actually reinforces and rewards distractibility, hyper vigilance, and all the aspects of ADHD that are problematic in a classroom setting.
Learning to Drive a Car: A Mastery of Social Media And Dr. Rich’s Warning on the Future of Children’s Autonomy
That is fascinating. That is a really nice idea of where you might have a day like that, where you are feeling behind all day. You can regain a sense of control once you come home. That sounds familiar, doc. Frankly, it sounds familiar in terms of what I may see with my kids, but even myself to some extent, you know, like I will find myself playing some silly game on planes, you know, and things because I’m. I need to regain some sense of control. Maybe I need some wins. I need a few wins because I’ve had a bunch of losses today, but I can beat this computer at this.
The last point from Dr. Rich halted me in my tracks and stuck with me. If you treat someone who is addicted to something like alcohol or cigarets, what you’re really asking is that they give up those things. Abstinence, that makes sense. That is simply not realistic with technology, it is for most people. So Dr. Rich’s approach is let’s learn to live with it and along the way, respect it. Look, I know that’s a huge shift from the doom and gloom warnings. It’s often said that social media harms us like a drug. Needs to be cut out of our lives.
I think that we should think about our child driving a car the way we think about our phone or the social media platform, if we could treat them like the power tools they are. Right? A car is something kids want to get. But that being said, I don’t think we would teach our child to drive either, because everyone else is doing it regardless of what their age is or in a way that is sort of a have at it, you know. We will give a four year old who’s been playing Angry Birds and screaming an iPad as a tool to calm them down without thinking about the implications. I think that we need to treat these tools with care and respect, because we don’t teach driving a car by telling the kids not to hit the tree, instead we should show them how to use them. We teach them to drive a car and in the process they learn to be safe. I think that we need to approach it not out of fear, but out of a sense of mastery of this powerful tool.
Thinking about it as a power tool, more like an automobile, sort of framing. I think it’s really interesting as my children are starting to drive. I think about that a lot as well. Like if you said, what is my biggest concern about screens with my teenagers? I don’t think they use it too much because it can be fatal when driving far away. Do I worry about how much they’re using it overall? Yes. But I worry far more about when they are using it and what they are using it for.
What really matters here is content that we are both consuming and creating in this space and the context in which we are using it. In the middle of the day you don’t want your child doing things in the morning that interrupt their sleep, or you don’t want them sitting at the dinner table at night, so something like that would be perfect. We should really focus on the content. Is this healthy content? The content is either helpful or not. And what is the context in which they are doing it? And I think the one place that screen time comes in is really what is this displacing that I could be doing? Yeah. Could I be having a conversation at the kitchen table with mom or dad? I wonder if I could be playing with my friends. And that is where the kind of seductiveness of the online space can get in the way of the rich and diverse menu of experience that is so helpful to growing up.
Chasing Life, Dr. Rich and His Mom, Allison: A Baptism by Fire for a Baby’s Firstborn
And I’m going to get his advice for improving my own family’s relationship with technology. Don’t stay out of harms way. And now back to Chasing Life. Before we hear any more from Dr. Rich, I want to introduce you to one of his patients.
Allison first visited Dr. Rich as a preventive measure. There wasn’t yet a problem, but her mom, Amy, says that she was struggling to raise Allison and her siblings in a world that was so different from the one that she grew up in.
When I had my tonsil out, the TV in the back of my dad’s closet was broken and had to be fixed. And we didn’t have a TV in our house until I was about 16. With screens everywhere, raising kids, it was definitely baptism by fire.
A Wellness check for smartphone usage (with an app limit next-to-leading order): Allison’s mom says goodbye to YouTube and playing video games
I have implemented downtime where I am not allowed to use my phone until 715 am in the morning and I can’t use it after 830 pm so I can have my morning routine. But I also made app limits so I can only spend a certain amount of time on YouTube. I can only spend a certain amount of time doing games. I can only use one app at a time. That means I don’t spend a lot of time scrolling.
It’s pretty impressive. She is only 13 so keep in mind. I can really relate to Allison’s parents. We often think of going to the doctor for checkups to help prevent future health problems. Your parents did a lot for you here as well. And for all your listeners. This is what the conversation with Dr. Rich will do for you. Think of it as a wellness check for smartphone usage.
How do you gain the trust of the patients you treat? A simple test to explain how to get the most trust in a patient’s opinion
How do you gain the trust of the patients you treat? I mean, I’m not saying that they’re looking at you saying this guy is some old guy. We are the same age. I’m only saying that. How can they understand my world? How do you gain that trust?
What do you think about Grand Theft Auto? Tell me what you’re doing with your child, tell me what I’m doing, and what you wanna do
I ask them what games they play, or what socia-, seriously. I show them that I know a lot about it, that it’s a great place to live in, and that I don’t mean it’s a bad place. I’m approaching it as the world in which they live. And I think that’s a mistake that a lot of parents make, which is they’re sort of dealing with it as something else. They are at the top of the stairs and told to turn off Grand Theft Auto. I hate that. I encourage the parents to play Grand Theft Auto with their child, because there are some really interesting things that happen when they play it. Number one is, instead of saying, I hate that, get rid of it, it’s bad for you, you’re saying, I love you, I care about you. I want to understand what makes you engage. I want to understand what you’re doing here. When you figure out how to steal a car, you ask your child, “How do I steal a car?” Let’s talk about why we might want to do that and rehearse it over and over and over again. Right. You are coming from a different place. You are that child’s student and you are learning that from them. You’re changing the power differential in ways that are really meaningful to the kid, which is, I care about what you do. I care about you, and you’re not wagging a finger at them so much as you’re saying, Let’s understand this together and you’re giving them a way of moving on. That is not a punishment so much as it is the next step.
When you distill it all down, do you think there is a best way, not a right way, but is there a best way to raise kids in an increasingly digital world? Like, what are the other top sort of tips that you give?
At the end of the day, my biggest question for Dr. Rich wasn’t really about the data. I wanted to know as a fellow dad, fellow doctor, when he looks at where this is all headed. Does he feel hopeful?
I’m hopeful. The fact that I am a doctor and it’s kind of an occupational hazard is optimism. I am hopeful because of what the kids have to say. And so I think that we will get better. We will also encounter problems we don’t even anticipate yet. I believe things are going to get better. And yes, there will be some holes in the road. The real question is whether or not we’ll be able to spot the potholes and steer around them. Is it going to be hit them and we’ll have to resolve them? I’m pretty confident that we can do this. We have to be ready for problems to occur and we have to be prepared for them to be solved without guilt.
I like that. I do. This season is a big reason why I wanted to do it. I wanted to look at the impact that technology was having on us all. I wanted to make sure the tone of the conversations were right. Being a bad parent isn’t what it’s about. It’s not about being a bad kid. It’s not about what’s right or wrong. I may not be making the right decisions as a parent all the time. I know that. I think that’s okay, because it’s about doing the best you can with the best intentions in mind. We are in the Wild West when it comes to these technologies. There is little doubt that we are making some of this up as we go along, but it’s all about learning what path works best for you. For some people like Allison and her mom, Amy, it did make sense to tackle these issues early before anything bad happens. Some people, like Jerome who was able to self identify, have a problem and one day decide to stop cold turkey. I know that some of you listening are still worried about your habits and not sure what to do about it. That’s why in our next episode, science journalist Catherine Price is going to teach us how to break up with our phones.
Get in the habit of taking a break, so that you can both better understand the effect that your relationship with technology is having on you, and then also appreciate its benefits more.
I think I could quit the two social media sites. It would be hard to give up the app because I use it a lot.
Chasing Life with CNN Audio: How Much Is Too Much? A Case Study of a Lossful High-Energy Teen
That’s coming up. Thanks for listening. CNN Audio produces Chasing Life. Our podcast is produced by Grace Walker, Xavier Lopez, Eryn Mathewson, and David Rind. Haley Thomas is our senior producer. Tommy Bazarian is our engineer andAndrea Kane is our medical writer. He is our technical director. CNN Audio is produced by Steve Lickteig. And a special thanks to Ben Tinker, Amanda Sealey and Nadia Kounang of CNN Health and Katie Hinman.
How much is too much? It is hard to know. But sometimes, the answer is much more obvious. It was for Jerome Yankey. He noticed that he was using TikTok too much when he was a college freshman.
When the toll shifted from physical to mental, quashing his creativity and warping his sense of worth, he decided he needed to quit. And he did it cold turkey – no easy feat.
Internet Addiction: Is it a Mental Health Disorder? An Expert’s Remark on Teens’ Use and Use of TikTok
Yankey is far from alone. A survey found that over sixty percent of teens use TikTok, and more than a fifth use it almost constantly. Among the 5% of teens who use it most, 26% use it almost constantly.
For now, internet addiction is not an official clinical diagnosis. There are still questions about whether it should be classified as a mental health disorder or part of a mental health condition. There are also questions about how to define it, measure it, test it and treat it.
Most experts agree that excessive screen time can have bad effects on kids, even if it’s not a true addiction.
“We as a society use the term addiction as pejorative. We think of addicts as weak people with poor character and approach them as punishment, rather than healing.