When Social Media Replaces "Playtime," The Harms to Young Girls Increase Exponentially!
There are a billion articles and books on the benefits of play. And with numbers of hours spent on screens almost double what they were 5 years ago, something had to give. And the results from this loss of in-person playtime aren't great.
Harms from lack of play and increase in screen use.
They are moving less, and spiraling into a vortex of social comparison, cyber-bullying, and possible depression.
They are becoming more impulsive and narcissistic.
They are not as engaged in sports, face-to-face conversations, and meaningful conversations with parents and teachers.
The lack of friction during the making of online friends and the constant feedback loops can create anxiety. Children often feel they need to respond immediately to multiple outreach and this is not healthy. It replaces the rich methods with which children need to learn to communicate and problem-solve with real relationships . Face-to-face communication is critical and invaluable and without these interactions, young girls are more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
Tips for parents and educators:
Re-enforce rules that make sense for your home and your extended community. Often adults allow children access to social media platforms that are not intended for them, because children will feel left out if all their friends are on it. FOMO is real and can contribute to mental health and anxiety. So engage the community.
Be your daughter's role-model. Play up the importance of in-person friendships, meetings and simple phone-calls. Children aren't great at listening but are very good at imitating us.
Have a thousand "one-minute" conversations. One is not enough. Keep talking to your daughter.
Delay social media as long as you can. Tristan Harris and Jonathan Haidt suggest 16 years of age, and older and we agree. But engaging your school heads is critical. In the end, it helps them too, because the longer the kids in their schools wait to use social media, the fewer cyber-bullying incidents will occur. School heads often have to intervene, or are affected by digital drama that is created outside the classroom. Because kids bring all that drama straight back to the classroom, which should be a place of eye-contact, respect and learning.