What Is Internet Addiction?
One of the definitions of compulsive Internet use is being online when you should be attending to other things, such as schoolwork, relationships, sports and hobbies or sleeping, according to the Center for Internet Addiction. It is estimated that Internet addiction plays a part in about 50 percent of all family conflicts. Internet addiction contributes to lost productivity, academic failure, isolation and poor personal care.
(Reference Psychologist Michael G. Conner)
Over the past 7 months I have worked with over 1000 students, aged 12-17 years of age, running school workshops throughout the Munster area. I cover a range of topics relating to this age group;
The Importance of a Positive Self-Esteem
Choices and Consequences
Social Media Awareness & Social Media Addiction
Finding a Balance between Your Real World and Your Virtual World
Work Experience Tips for Transition Year
There are a number of areas I find very worrying:
The Perfect Image
Lack of Face-to-Face Communication
Bullying and Unacceptable Behavior Online
The Damaging Effects of ‘Sleep Deprivation’ due to Social Media
What is a Real Friend – What is a Virtual Friend? The Importance of Real Friendships.
Lack of Family Quality Time and the Effects of Same
. I am going to talk about one of them today.
- The Perfect Image
Our younger generation is being bombarded with ideas as to how they should look, behave, dress, act and be, on a daily basis. They are exhausted trying to keep up with what they ‘think’ they should be doing, what they think they should be wearing, the way they think they should be behaving. When we look into the area of ‘image’ during the workshops, I get the students to come up with the ‘perfect’ girl, what do they think she would look like, dress like, how might she behave etc.… then we discuss where this ‘perfect image’ comes from?
Social Media, magazines, television-reality shows, peers and celebrities all contribute to this ‘Perfect Image’.
After a lot of discussion, very often the students will really understand the reason why this idea of ‘Perfect’ is only an idea, nothing real and certainly not achievable. You may say, this pressure was always there and you are right but with social media you never get a break.
When our teens (and adults) look at different social media sites and see their peers out socializing, looking happy all of the time, looking “perfect” all of the time – it is time for us to stop and realize social media gives us one part of someone’s life, the part they want the world to see. You will not see them upset, lonely, isolated, crying, not looking well. We need to remind our younger generation on a daily basis that the truth is Social Media does not portray anyone’s real world – only the part of their world they want others to see. (I know some adults who actually do themselves up just to take a ‘selfie’ at home.)
I could visibly see the reaction from the students when this point sank in – relief, a light bulb moment – maybe we do not have to believe all of this after all.
Some of the comments I received after the workshops; (evaluation forms)
“It made me more aware of the whole concept of my image and the importance of loving myself”.
“Girls our age become less confident from social media and it brings us down, we can become very conscious of our body image, and attach far too much importance to it, this workshop showed me how unreal this ‘perfect image’ really is.”
“So many girls spend all of their time trying to be someone else, this workshop showed me what a waste of time that is and I am going to try really hard to be myself from now on.”
The students need guidance as to how to deal with Social Media and all it involves. In my experience the negative effects of Social Media need to be spelt out to our youth, from a very early age. The fact that the virtual world is not real, that you do not get a real view of anyone’s life, only one side of it, the effects of online marketing, the effects of lack of face to face communication, the effects of lack of interest in nature and creativity, the effects of constantly uploading information to our minds on a daily basis and so much more.
Children and teenagers are very open to information and education on many different topics relating to Social Media. If we teach them in the right way, come down to their level and be realistic, we can get through to them. They are crying out for tools to help them to deal with this new ever-changing world. This is a new world and one we have little to no control over. We all need information so we can educate our youth on how to live a healthy and positive life with the inclusion of Social Media.Share Blog