For years, many people have repeatedly drawn attention to the bad influence and addiction that can negatively shape the behavior of people attached to social networks. Recently, a general practitioner named Rangan Chatterjee in the United Kingdom received a 16-year-old boy after he injured himself and ended up in the hospital for accidents and emergencies.
After receiving the child, the first thought that animated the doctor “was to put him on antidepressants,” says the doctor. But chatting with the boy, Chatterjee quickly suspected a cause-and-effect relationship between his use of social media and his poor mental health.
Dr. Chatterjee, therefore, suggested a simple solution – the teenager should try to wean himself off social media, limiting himself to just an hour before going to bed. In the course of a few weeks, he should extend this to two hours at night and two in the morning. After applying this solution for a while, the doctor noted a significant improvement in the child’s well-being. And after six months, the teenager’s mother sent a letter to the doctor stating that he was happier at school and integrated into his local community.
From this case, if we still had doubts about the negative consequences of social networks on the behavior of users, for the doctor, it is clearly established without any other form of proof that “social media has a negative impact on mental health.” He added: “I think it’s a big problem and we need rules: how to educate society to use technology to help us rather than harm us?”
Some people have long seen the drawbacks associated with addiction to technology in general and adopted radical solutions. Among these people, we have for example Steve Jobs who told Nick Bilton in 2010 during an interview that his children had never used an iPad. He added that “we limit the use of new technologies at home.” It is not only Steve Job who is aware of the dangers to which children or young people are exposed. Evan Williams, one of the founders of Twitter also said a few years ago that his two boys do not have iPad, but rather books that they can read at any time.
To go in the same direction, a group of experts from the Child Welfare sent the end of last month a letter Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to ask him to close Messenger Kids, the first application of the Facebook social network designed specifically for children under 13 years old. As arguments put forward, the group explains that this could create an addiction to digital devices and social media in children, which would have the effect of undermining the good development of children.
For Louise Theodosiou, a psychiatrist-counselor at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in the UK, one of the most precise indications that children spend too much time on their phone is their behavior during a session with a doctor. Psychiatrist. According to her, “two or three years ago, it was very unusual for a child to answer their phone or a message at a meeting, but now it’s common.”
And among those who are addicted to these technologies, Theodosiou argues that some children, even if they are not numerous, are so addicted that they stopped coming out of their room because of their dependence on social media, gaming platforms or both. “These children live in a fictional world, sometimes to the detriment of their physical health.
A study from the University of Glasgow has shown that many teens are so invested in social media and so anxious to miss messages that they log in the middle of the night to make updates to their account, leading to sleep deprivation.
Other children are so attached to these networks that parents are forced to sleep with the home router to ensure that children can not connect to the wifi in the middle of the night, reports Theodosiou. Besides, even for children whose use of social media may be considered normal, there are still dangers in how the Internet has become an intermediary in the lives of friends and celebrities, warns the counselor.
According to Dr. Theodosiou’s analysis, one of the reasons for the poor influence of these networks on young people is that “young people need to look at others compulsively and get angry because they feel that their life is not like that of others. She added that they think their friends have a better life than themselves, even if they only see an idealized version of the lives of others.
To provide solutions to this phenomenon that is not universally accepted, Karim Palant, Director of Public Policy for Facebook in the UK, told the BBC: “Our research shows that when we use social media to communicate with people who are dear to us, this can be beneficial for our well-being. Apple, for its part, has recently faced calls from its investors to act on smartphone addiction, with software that limits how long children can use their device.
But for Dr. Theodosiou parents can keep an eye on the time children spend online and make sure it does not interfere with activities such as socializing, exercising, eating and sleep, or consider banning devices at mealtimes and take them away an hour before bedtime. The doctor also advises to talk “regularly to children about what they are doing online, messages they have written that day, who they are friends with and how it affects their mood.”
But these solutions will they effectively address the problem?