There is an argument for either side, but the latest Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” made waves as it exposed some of the dangerous impacts of social media, especially on our youth.
“The Social Dilemma” makes a case that companies are able to manipulate online users through algorithms. Essentially every move that a user makes online is tracked and recorded via data that is then used to continually engage the user, provide personalized recommendations, and influence thoughts and actions.
As an adult, this made me think twice about my actions online, but what about our youth? In an article published on Inc.com by activist, Melanie Curtin, the latest research is showing that on average a child gets their first smartphone by age 10. By age 12, 50 percent of children have social media accounts (primarily Facebook and Instagram).
Why is this problematic? Adolescence is a critical period in a person’s life where much of their cognitive development occurs. According to The University of Rochester Medical Center, children grow in the way they think from ages 12-18 in the following ways: Develop their own view of the world, increase their capacity to think in complex ways, and increase their ability to consider possibilities and facts in decision-making.
If it is true that many of our youth are engaging in social media throughout their vulnerable developmental years, we must hope that the information they are acquiring is positive, factual, and kind. I think all of us can agree that social media is not always all of those things.
So what can we do? The University of Rochester Medical Center suggests encouraging healthy cognitive growth for youth through the following ways: Include them in discussions about a variety of topics, encourage them to share ideas and thoughts, encourage them to think independently and develop their own ideas, help them set goals, challenge them to think about possibilities for the future, compliment and praise them for well-thought-out decisions, and help them re-evaluate poorly made decisions. If this is a topic that interests you, I highly recommend viewing “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix.
Thank you for your time and enjoy the beautiful Wisconsin fall weather!