Parental Control Apps Help Kids With News Stress

by Anna Hughes on 06/12/2018
Helping kids to engage with the news in a healthy, productive way can be a struggle.

Teaching kids to engage with the news may be the best thing you do for them.

Even the most enthusiastic news fan may want to keep certain headlines away from their children, or at least discuss the issues the news is going to bring up in depth and in a way they can understand. Adults can also struggle with this; it’s colloquially known as “headline stress,” where the news overwhelms your emotional capacity to keep pace.

Managing headline stress is becoming harder and harder as TVs proliferate, radios become louder, and, of course, when there’s a constant stream of news alerts and breaking headlines in your pocket. It’s important for kids to want to engage with the news, but they also need to learn how not to be carried away by an endless torrent of headlines. How can parental control software help kids manage the flood of news?

Blocking Notifications And Apps

Parental assistance apps can help by blocking notifications. App notifications can take away our ability to engage with it at a time of our choosing, by prompting us to take out our phone and look at the latest antics. Instead of following that prompt, blocking the notification will allow your children to focus on schoolwork, and let you intercept upsetting headlines first so you can talk them over with your kids first.

Similarly, there may be questionable apps that try to exploit news, whether it’s serious topics or celebrity gossip, to gather data from kids or mislead them about certain topics. Some apps even offer outright propaganda. Parental control apps will allow you to filter these questionable apps out.

Screen time is better shared

Creating ‘News Time’

Another effective tool is that you can create “news time” with the family where everyone can look at digital newspapers or listen to news podcasts and alerts and discuss the major issues. This is particularly useful if there’s a homework assignment involving the news, as you can help teach your kids to approach the news with critical thinking and use your phones to research unfamiliar topics.

Remember that you too should abide by ‘news time.’ Headline stress can affect everyone, and kids will be able to pick up on whether you’ve seen an upsetting news item.

Limiting Engagement

There’s also a time and a place to read the news, especially upsetting news. We all know the temptation to look at your phone when an alert goes off, and parental control software can not only block alerts, but lock off a phone except for emergency calls between certain hours of the day. This will keep kids from staring at their phones after bedtime, reading the news when they should be paying attention in math class, and otherwise controlling engagement to keep it at a healthy level.

There’s no perfect solution to headline stress. We’re more aware, more informed, and have more access to current events than any other time in history, and it’ll be difficult, if not impossible, to keep children away from something so omnipresent. Instead, you can keep the torrent of information from overwhelming your kids, and teach them how to critically evaluate and otherwise approach the news. To learn how Screen Time can help, try it for free.

 

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Tips for Keeping Smartphones from Harming Your Kids’ Grades

by Screen Time Team on 26/11/2018
Kids and adults alike can be easily distracted from their responsibilities by their phones. But it's one thing if a chore is half-done, and quite another when grades start to slip.

 

Kids can struggle with grades for many reasons, but excessive phone time doesn’t help.

If you think your children’s struggles with grades are because of their phones, what should you do?

Diagnose The Problem

First, take a serious look at the problem. There are many reasons good grades can begin to slip. Some kids are distracted, but others just need more help with the material, or other concerns may be coming to the fore. This is especially true as tweens and teens start adding to their schedules, assuming more responsibilities, joining more after-school activities, and as their workload picks up.

Furthermore, a jump in phone use can have many causes. For example, it’s common for people who feel overwhelmed to just not deal with their workload and watch TV or play games instead. So before jumping right to the phone, look at the whole situation as objectively as you can.

Talk It Through

Before you go in and take the phone away, or install parental control apps, you should sit down with your kids, discuss your concerns, and explain the actions you’re taking and why. They won’t necessarily be happy about it, of course, but they’ll need to understand your concerns and why this is happening. Be sure to leave the door open for them to tell you about concerns they might have. Make it a discussion, and be sure everyone walks away understanding everyone else’s perspective.

Some screens help, some screens hinder.

Ask Teachers

You should also consult with teachers about your concerns, for a few reasons. One, teachers can tell you what they see their students doing on their phones, and give you an idea about what’s going on. Two, teachers can give you a list of programs and websites that they use during class, so that you can configure parental control software to allow those apps and nothing else during school hours. And three, if there are other areas of concern, such as signs of depression or a negative relationship with classmates, teachers may be able to tell you what’s happening because of their unique perspective on kids’ lives.

Don’t Go Cold Turkey

Contrary to popular belief, “cold turkey” probably isn’t the way to go with children and their screens. In some cases, it may simply be unworkable, such as when kids need their phone to pick up shifts at a job or volunteering opportunity, or to work with their classmates on group projects through video calls or online study groups.

Instead, work out a plan that balances your concerns against their needs. One tried and true rule is that no games or TV may be played until their homework is done, but there are several other approaches worth taking, such as “paying” for chores in screen time, or using parental control software to set strict limits on what can be used at what times.

Responsible phone use isn’t just a good thing for grades, it’s a useful lifelong skill that will teach young ones how to manage their time effectively. To learn how Screen Time can help, try it for free.

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Should You Create a Family Screen Time Contract?

by Screen Time Team on 15/11/2018
Families should agree on how phones are used.

Family With Teenage Children Eating Breakfast In Kitchen

We’ve all chafed under an arbitrary rule. Perhaps it’s a uniform code at work that makes no sense, perhaps it’s a homeowner’s association demand that we only put certain plants in our gardens, but we’ve all asked ourselves “Why does this stupid rule exist?” Kids often feel the same way, especially if rules are handed down to them and they’re not told why they’re expected to follow them.

And for their screens, in particular, a screen time parental control contract may help them understand, and stick by, the rules.

What Is A Screen Time Contract?

A screen time contract is really nothing more than writing down the rules for screens for the whole family, preferably after talking about why the rules are in place. A typical contract will include “no phone” times, such as at the dinner table or during after-school homework time; what times are allowed for screen time; what rights parents reserve, such as removing applications from phones and when those rights kick in; and punishments for breaking the rules.

Usually, the rules are enforced with parental control software.

What Does A Screen Time Contract Include?

Any screen time contract should clearly lay out the rules that the entire family is expected to follow; exceptions in certain scenarios, such as going out; punishments for breaking the rules, which are usually having screen time taken away; and a provision that allows you to revise the contract as circumstances change. Before you know it, your elementary schooler will be a teen with a job, after-school obligations, and dates, so the contract should be able to change with everyone’s needs.

Phones shouldn’t interrupt family time. Contracts can also include other rules. For example, if kids can earn more time on game consoles or their phones by doing chores, include a chore schedule and how much time they earn for how much time they put into a chore.

A cheerful family plays board games at home.

Why Have A Screen Time Contract?

The contract serves a few purposes. First, it gets the rules written down, so nobody can claim that they didn’t know what was expected of them. Every parent has heard this argument at least once, so heading it off at the pass will save a little aggravation.

Secondly, writing out the rules gives everybody in the family a right to weigh in on the rules and whether they need revision. For example, kids might make the case that they need certain apps enabled to research papers at school or that they should be allowed to play games on their phones while waiting at the dentist’s office. Whether parents agree is up to them, but at least kids can feel they took their best shot.

Finally, it sets the standard for everyone. If the rules are fair, apply to everybody, and are discussed by everybody, kids are less likely to feel like they’re being singled out or picked on.

It also helps parents to model behavior for kids. If you stick to the contract, they’re more likely to, and if they break the contract, they know the cost.

Want to try out a family contract? Get your Screen Time family contract here! Remember though – parents have to stick to their part of the contract too!

Contracts are just one tool in the screen management toolbox. To learn more about parental control software, try Screen Time for free!

 

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Bus Stop Safety Requires Addressing Kids’ Phone Use

by Screen Time Team on 08/11/2018
Everyone is easily distracted by their phone. We've all seen the driver yelling at their phone while blowing a red light, or a pedestrian so wrapped up in texting they step into a busy street. Kids in particular, unfortunately, can be susceptible to the lure of the phone while walking to and from the bus stop. How do we encourage kids to keep their phones in their pockets?

school bus is running through the street

Check In On Safety BasicsIt helps to start with a review of basic safety. Kids should know not to walk in the middle of the road, to use sidewalks wherever possible and to stay on the shoulder on more rural roads, to stick to crosswalks to change sides of the street, to look both ways before crossing, and to wear reflective, highly visible clothing if they’re walking after the sun goes down. A refresher on these rules never hurts, especially as the winter months see more kids out in the dark on their way home.

Establish Phone Rules

Add to these basic rules a set of phone rules. For example, if your kids need to use their phone to get around because you’ve just moved to the neighborhood, start by setting a rule that they can only use audio directions over a speaker, instead of headphones. Kids shouldn’t be allowed to play games in areas where they need to pay special attention to their surroundings, such as dirt roads or roads without sidewalks, . In areas with sidewalks, you can relax rules about music and headphones, but kids should understand that their safety is their responsibility, and all it takes is a distracted driver and a distracted pedestrian meeting at the wrong time.

There will need to be some exceptions. Kids should be able to send texts and take calls, especially for their own safety and, as they get older, to communicate with homework partners and employers. But you should curate the list of who kids can call and when.

Kids need to understand when to listen to adults.

Young student at a bus station

Install Software

The question, of course, is how you enforce this, and parental control software can help. Kids should understand why the software is in place and what apps will be available during their school commute and why. Games, music software, and social media apps, in particular, should be filtered, and consider in some cases making use of the time lock that prevents the phone from being used at all.

Set The Right Tone

The most important step, however, is to lead by example. Most kids learn how to use their phone, for good or for bad, from how their parents use their phones. If you’re constantly distracted by texts, games, and apps when you should be watching where you step, or watching the road, kids will assume that this is just how adults go through the world, and start imitating them. Make a point of turning off your phone, only using headphones where appropriate, and modeling the right behavior.

Parental control apps can help parents keep kids safe, whether they’re walking on the side of the road or being driven to school. To learn more, try Screen Time for free!

 

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Three easy offline activities to keep the kids distracted this Thanksgiving

by Anna Hughes on 07/11/2018
Thanksgiving, in an ideal world, is a valuable time to be with our families. To laugh, to embrace one another, to joyfully reminisce about the good old days. To make new memories and enjoy a day full of meaningful conversations with loved ones. This scenario is of course completely fictional for most. Anyone with children who claims their Thanksgiving was in any way straightforward or dreamlike, is probably bending the truth quite significantly. Especially if they were the ones hosting the festivities.

There’s the late-night food prep, the cleaning and decorating, the mental preparation for pending potential or inevitable family dramas. Not to mention the daily challenges (to put it politely) set mostly by the smallest person/people who share your home.

It is definitely tempting to give the kids some bonus screen time on their tablet or phone just to keep them out of the way while we dress and stuff the turkey, set tables, quietly glug eggnog etc. With the parental controls Screen Time provides, this is easy to do without the usual fear of overindulgence/online dangers/switch-off meltdowns.

And that’s fine.

Or, rather than lose our children to their devices while we do all of the work, we could always find ways to get them involved with the preparations (bear with us here).

The tasks you set needn’t be anything complicated. Baking something simple or making table decorations for example not only gets them away from their screens, it will also get them using and developing their creative skills, math skills, science, reading, time telling…the list goes on.

Who knows, you might even bond a bit too.

Then once your house is filled with the sweet smells of pumpkin pie and your table is scattered with lovingly crafted decorations, you could treat your offspring to some bonus time on their device as a ‘well done for being so helpful’ reward. Which also means more ‘you’ time later on. Everyone wins 😉

We’ve scoured the pages of Pinterest to find the best Thanksgiving recipes and crafts for you to try with your kids. Not only that, but we at Screen Time Labs have MADE each one to ensure they are as quick and as easy as promised (kids attention spans vs parents patience levels were taken very seriously during the testing period).

 

Evidence is posted below in our quick video tutorials, each lasting less than 60 seconds.

We’d love to see your creations. Feel free to share on here or on our Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter feeds using #kidsunplugged.

Successful AND unsuccessful attempts are all welcome! Good luck 🙂

Mini Pumpkin Pies (Thank you @crafty_morning)

Turkey Cupcakes (Thanks @MarthaStewart)

Turkey Paper Bag Puppets (Thanks @1littleproject!)

 

 

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Smartphone Use by Age: Setting Appropriate Limits for Your Kids

by Anna Hughes on 17/10/2018
Kids want smartphones younger and younger these days, but when a parent finally makes the decision, the next question is how often they should use it and for how long. It's a key part of the rules, and parental control apps for cell phones can enforce it, but when it comes to formulating those rules, that's a tougher discussion. Here's what we know about kids, screens, and time limits.
Parental control apps

What age is the right age for a child to have their own phone, and how long should they use it?

All Kids

First of all, there are certain times of day and night that should be no-phone time, no matter what. School hours, family dinner, bedtimes, and any other structured times where kids need to focus and don’t need any more distractions should be strictly phone-free.

Another point to consider is screen time means all screens, not just phones. Laptops, television, game consoles, and other screens need to be included in with the phone.

0-5 Years

It’s generally recommended by pediatricians and others that very young children be largely kept away from screens of all types. Up to one hour of screen time is fine, but it should be carefully curated by parents and done under their close supervision, with a view to educational, age-appropriate content.

6-12 Years

As kids get older, you can loosen up the rules, slightly, but you should still keep overall screen time at two hours or under, according to experts. They also don’t recommend issuing kids a smartphone. If safety or contact is a concern, kids on the older end of this range can be given a flip-phone with no internet access.

Also important is content monitoring. This is the age when marketing machines and abusive app and game design really kicks into overdrive, which can hook self-aware adults, not just kids. Parents should know exactly what apps kids want to download and how they work. Parental control software can be invaluable in this situation.

Parental control apps

Parental control apps for cell phones can help tremendously when kids are in the 6 to 12 age group.

12-14 Years

Thirteen is around the age many parents give their children their own smartphone, but this should be treated on a case by case basis. Ask yourself what your child needs the phone for, and set some rules about what can and can’t be found on the phone, paired with reasonable punishments for breaking the rules. The two-hour time limit should largely remain in place, but more mature kids may be able to “earn” time in front of a game console or a phone by doing chores or completing homework.

15 And Older

This is the grey area, for many parents. Their teens are getting driver’s licenses, holding down jobs, applying to college, and are transitioning to adults who can make their own decisions. Again, there will be some degree of judgment call here; how mature is your teen? Limits should still be in place, but you can begin relaxing them if you find your concern is lessening. Make sure to talk with teens about who they’re speaking with and what they’re doing online, though, and keep an eye out for cyberbullying.

There is some degree of leeway, here, and we shouldn’t forget screens are good in some respects. Kids can explore all sorts of scientific and artistic realms that were formerly difficult for them. So treat these as guidelines, while making sure you’re the one who makes these calls. To learn more about how to enforce the rules, sign up for Screen Time.

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Staring at screens is bad for eyes short-term, but what about the long-term?

by Anna Hughes on 10/10/2018
It's something that parents have told their children for generations: “You'll ruin your eyesight!” For Baby Boomers, it was sitting too close to the TV. For Gen Xers, it was portable video game consoles. And for modern kids, it's their smartphones and tablets. But what's the real science? Is there a point of concern? And can parental control apps spare kids eye injury as well as the darker side of the internet?
Teenage girl looking at her mobile phone.

It’s not just the content on social media that might put strain on teens.

 A Near-Sighted Controversy

The short answer is that there is, indeed, a rising incidence of myopia, the medical term for near-sightedness, in the world. In fact, in some regions of the world, it’s risen to 90% of both adults and teens. But it’s an issue with more than one cause, and doctors are hesitant to lay any blame.

First of all, we should remember that not many people are blessed with 20/20 vision in the first place. Only about 35% of the population has it, in fact. So in many cases near-sightedness will be an issue to some degree, iPhone in their faces or not. But is it exacerbating the problem?

Doctors are fairly certain part of the problem is what’s called “near work.” When your eyes need to focus on something that’s close, such as a smartphone screen, over long periods of time, it works much like a muscle. As the near vision gets more use, the far vision tends to atrophy. Of course, this doesn’t just apply to technology. Reading books, or really looking closely at anything for a long time, might also cause an issue.

Conversely, the more you use your far vision, with methods like playing outside, the stronger it gets. Whether it actually prevents or forestalls myopia is an open question. But on the other hand, it’s hard to argue with stepping away from social media for any number of other reasons.

Young girl looking at her mobile phone.

Smartphones can pain the eyes, not just the neck.

Short-Term Problems

While the current answer is a big maybe, there are short-term issues that heavy smartphone use can cause. Staring at any screen for long periods of time without a break can cause dry eye, eye strain, and other problems. They may not be damaging over the long term, but they do hurt and can cause problems, especially if kids need to use screens at school or for homework.

The rule of thumb is every twenty minutes, you should look away from your screen for twenty seconds at something at least twenty feet away. This both shifts your vision off the screen and gives your far-sightedness a bit of a workout. Also, you should put down a screen every hour and take a brief overall break.

Parental control apps can help enforce breaks, and also remove apps that ask kids to stare continually at their screens. But just as important is that kids see you take these breaks and show healthy attitudes towards screens. Even stepping away for a few seconds to stretch and stare off into the distance will model good behavior.

While the jury may be still out on the medical causes of myopia, there’s no reason to take risks, with your eyesight or your kids. Institute a break schedule, ensure apps are paused every twenty minutes for a break, and talk to your kids about why these breaks are important. If you want help setting healthy limits for screens, we invite you to try Screen Time for free.

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How to Protect Your Teen from Porn and Sexting

by Anna Hughes on 03/10/2018
One of the downsides of the rapid changes in technology we've seen is that it creates new complications to some very old problems. Even before the internet, explaining the differences between physical and emotional intimacy, or addressing the differences between porn and reality were problems parents struggled with. Now, parents have the internet, sexting, and social media built on sharing sexual content to deal with, and parental control software and smartphone addiction is only one part of what's an important conversation. So, what's changed, and how can you deal with it?
Person using their phone.

They’re not going to put down the phones entirely, but they can understand how to use them intelligently.

It’s Awkward. That’s OK

Many parents are surprised to discover it’s not the mechanics that are the most awkward or embarrassing. To sit your kids down and discuss sex means you’ll be discussing some personal intimate emotions that you probably don’t share with even your closest friends. Most of us don’t have much practice in talking about how sex makes us feel, but that’s OK. Really, that’s the point you should be making: Sex is about far more than the physical act. One of the problems with porn and sexting is that they can’t capture the unique emotional fingerprint each person has when it comes to sex. This can leave adolescents more confused than ever.

Many, if not most teens don’t necessarily have the emotional tools or the will to discuss their most intimate part of themselves with you.

Closeup of person sitting at a table using their cell phone.

Parental control apps should be accompanied by strong parent-child communication.

Talk About Your Concerns And Expectations

Anybody can talk to teens about peer pressure and cyberbullying, but they tend to think, fairly or not, that only their peers understand what they’re going through. What you can do is be honest with them about what you’re concerned about, what you expect from them, and why. Teens want to be treated like adults, and avoiding treating them like children will go a long way. If you level with them, they’re more likely to level with you. Sex is a complicated topic, and if you give them room to discuss their feelings, they’re more likely to do so.

Expect Some Rule-Breaking

Unlike many, many other topics, this is one in which rule-breaking of some sort may well be inevitable. Teens are curious about sex, and as we said, they’re still shaping the mental tools they have to deal with it. So are their friends, and the parents of your teen’s friends, and a united front is extremely rare. While you can’t control what they do everywhere, you can anticipate and block some rule-breaking with parental control apps. In some cases, it’s better to remove temptation until teens know how to handle it.

How Parental Control Apps Can Help

The texting associated with the phone itself may not be a primary communication channel for your teen. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and other downloadable messaging apps often become their de facto communication channel. Some parental control apps, like Screen Time, allow parents to approve or reject the downloading of apps, so you can be confident that you know which texting channels are available to your child. Screen Time also provides information on app usage, so you can see which apps your child uses most.

While you may not be able to read individual  messages, you do have oversight over which messaging apps kids use, and can keep up with how often they use them, which can tip you off to potential problems. The content of the messages is something that warrants a one-on-one conversation with your teen, so it’s important that you maintain regular communication about rules, sex, and smartphone use at all times.

Sex isn’t a simple topic, even for adults. For teens, it’s even harder to sort through the many conflicting demands placed on them. It’s going to take patience, honesty, respect, and listening to help your teens through a challenging stage of life. The Screen Time parental control app can help;  try it for free.

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Should Parents Worry About Radiation from Smartphones?

by Anna Hughes on 26/09/2018
As long as there have been smartphones, there have been claims that they're dangerous. Sometimes, this danger is real and concrete. For example, there's a reason police officers pull you over if you have your phone in your ear while you're driving. Other times, dangers can be psychological. And sometimes, claims of smartphone danger can be vague yet frightening, like claims that “radiation” from your cell phone can cause cancer. Are our phones a radioactive risk to our kids? No, probably not. But it's worth knowing why these claims are being made, and lessons we can learn.
Teenage girl holding up her mobile phone taking a selfie.

Is there a risk of radiation from their smartphones?

Radioactive Phones? Not So Much

First, we need to understand a few scientific terms and concepts. First of all, “radiation” is simply a term that means “emitting electromagnetic energy.” Almost everything that exists emits some form of this: Human beings, for example, emit heat, or infrared radiation. The “radiation” that allegedly causes cancer is called “ionizing radiation,” extremely high energy radiation like x-rays, which can damage DNA. Your phone doesn’t have a battery powerful enough to emit ionizing radiation; think about the size of the x-ray machine you see at the dentist.

Some will also say they can “feel” the electromagnetic waves, that smartphone signals or WiFi signals cause them discomfort or even extreme pain. Whether this is a medical condition or psychosomatic is under heavy debate, but it’s a rare phenomenon, regardless.

The case is not necessarily closed, however. It’s possible, if perhaps unlikely, that perhaps a specific wavelength of non-ionizing radiation, if you’re exposed over an extremely long period of time, might cause cancer or other medical problems through a mechanism we haven’t discovered yet. This is the basis of those statements you read about keeping your phone in a bag or on your desk instead of in your pocket. The logic is simple: If there’s no risk, then it’s a mild inconvenience. If there is risk, you’ve thought ahead. Besides, there are good reasons beyond a possible health risk to consider a “bag rule” in your household.

Young teenage girl looking at her smartphone with a surprised expression.

Keep Phones Away

Even if there is no risk for cancer due to smartphone radiation, it’s still a smart idea to mandate phones are kept out of pockets and in bags. Part of this is the idea of “friction,” that is, the more steps and the harder it is to do something, the less likely people are to do it. If somebody has to reach into their bag and pull out their phone, it’s a little more effort than reaching into their pocket, and a little less convenient to take out in situations where they should have them, something adults and kids alike should consider.

Another aspect is that it prevents grabbing a phone from being an automatic action. We can fairly easily fall into a behavioral loop when it comes to our phones, using them to fill every free moment and to fill in every awkward silence. If we have to work a little harder to fill those emotional spaces with phones, we’re a little less likely to do it. Parental control software is another tool parents use to place limits on kids’ smartphone use.

In the end, once you set aside the preliminary and inconclusive science of smartphone radiation, what you’re left with is a reminder that we simply don’t know the long-term effects of these technologies. But why take the risk? Parental control apps for smartphones can perform double duty, by enforcing smartphone behavioral boundaries with kids, and by helping kids to interact with the world without having a phone in their hands at all times. To learn more about keeping your family’s smartphone use in line, contact us.

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Key Insights from Latest Pew Study on Teens and Social Media

by Anna Hughes on 19/09/2018
The Pew Research Center is a non-partisan think tank that takes a hard look at, among other things, the media and how we interact with it. Its latest study on this topic focused on teens, and it has a collection of insights parents should pay attention to.
Two teenage girls using their mobile phones.

Teens are more ambivalent towards their phones than you might think.

Teens Are Almost All Online

Pew found that 95% of teens at least had access to a smartphone, a 23% jump from four years ago. It also found that 45% of the teens interviewed were connected to the internet, in their words, “almost constantly,” although we should remember this is a value judgment, to some degree. Think about how we use our smartphones as tools to navigate, make plans, and stay connected to work, and most parents might be surprised to consider how much “almost constantly” applies to them. Parents might consider leading by example, to help their kids form a more healthy perspective on the internet.

Teens Are About Visuals

The most popular networks among teens were based around visuals: YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat were far and away the social media networks teens were using the most. It’s worth becoming familiar with these sites, especially if you’re using parental control apps to monitor usage, and even opening an account with them to figure out how they work, and what you might be concerned about.

It’s More Distributed

That said, the idea of teens being on one network exclusively is a thing of the past. Many teens are using multiple networks to stay in touch with friends and share various forms of content. Pew has found these platforms tend to divide up teens’ time to varying degrees, instead of teens making more time in the day for these platforms. That means competition for eyeballs is more intense.

Person lying down using their mobile app.

Connecting is key, but not all teens think connecting is good.

Teens Aren’t Necessary Fans Of Social Media

Intriguingly, Pew found most teens are ambivalent about social media. 45% of teens in the survey said that social media had neither a positive nor negative effect on their lives, while 31% said it had a positive effect, and 24% said it had a negative effect. This lines up with the research elsewhere, which indicates the effect of social media on your emotional state lies mostly in how you use it.

Most interesting was what teens primarily viewed as the benefits and drawbacks. By a wide margin, those who liked social media felt that the ability to stay in touch with friends and family that aren’t nearby, at 40%, was the biggest benefit. Conversely, those who didn’t like it said that bullying was their primary concern, at 27%. Close behind that, at 15% was that it “harms relationships.

In other words, social media can be great for kids if they’re staying in touch with people they know, but teens also seem to feel it can spin out of control quickly. The lesson here for parents is to talk with their kids regularly about what’s happening online, who they’re talking to, and make sure the door is open to help.

Social media, love it or hate it, isn’t going anywhere, and the overall trend, according to Pew, is that it’ll keep growing to be an even bigger part of teens’ lives. For parents, this means being a sympathetic ear and keeping an eye out for signs of negative behavior. To learn more about parental control apps, and how they can help, sign up for Screen Time.

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