Q: What do parents need to know about the Social Media Epidemic and what can they do to help their middle school age (10-13) Gen Zers navigate this new social landscape?
- A: We are in the midst of a Social Media Epidemic and it is dramatically influencing the Gen Zers (born 1996-2010) that are living in our homes and has changed the social landscape.
Get their info from YouTube or from their peers versus mentors or parents
Communicate digitally 35% of the time.
According to a new study, today’s teens care much less about driving, scoring a fake ID, or dating than their 1990’s counterparts.
They prefer to stay home, hang out and scroll through social media.
“This is the new reality”, says Steve Robertson, Gen Z Expert & CEO of Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs (JKCP). “Many psychologists and professionals have pointed to screen time as the culprit of stress, depression and suicide in Gen Z, but that idea is oversimplified. Screens have existed for quite some time, and they’re not going anywhere. Everything that we know has a screen now; our car, refrigerator, cell phone, television, computer monitors, even the heating cooling systems in our homes.”
The real root of the problem is social media, not all of the screens. The fact of the matter is that social media isn’t going away. They are not yet mature enough to manage the magnitude of data that comes with it, but are being thrust into this world, nonetheless. They're also not yet prepared to handle the stickiness or addictive nature of it. Then, there is the emotional toll. At first, these challenges could appear to be just be the typical teenage rites of passage and the ups-and-downs that come with them. Post likes and un-liked, being invited somewhere, or being the one left out. The heightened emotional toll of social media, and the ever-present effect, can cause an unhealthy obsession. So, what role are we going to play as parents to coach and guide, especially our younger teens and middle school aged kids, through this process? While they are at a young, formative age, this can be challenging, which is all the more reason for parents to be an active member in their child’s technological life.
Be an active member of your child’s digital life. It’s vital to check-in, coach and have in-person face time with them. In this digital age, we call it 2.0 Parenting; being deliberate, coaching and guiding frequently. We're not asking you to live your kids' life for them, but rather to understand what they're going through, the space that they are in and meet them there so what they're going through isn’t overwhelming. If your children are able to engage with you in their world, it’ll only help boost their confidence and they won’t be consuming everything in a vacuum.
There is something unique and phenomenal about the Z generation. They are creative, entrepreneurial, cause-driven individuals with a mission to change the world. Like a tree, much of their success depends on how well they are nurtured. But, understand what they're going through, where they are and meet them there. If your children are able to engage with you in their world, it’ll help boost their confidence and help them in this space.
CEO of Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs (JKCP)
Steve Robertson is the CEO of Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs (JKCP), an organization specializing in youth-to-adult programming that turns curiosity into passion and skill. Steve is also a Gen Z & Millennial expert after working with youth at the company and around the globe for more than 20 years. In this role, his primary responsibility is to cultivate a culture that results in memories lasting a lifetime. www.jkcp.com