Helping teens navigate the digital world is a challenge all families face. Episcopal’s Jodi Manton provides valuable tips to help families manage. Make plans to attend Episcopal’s screening of Screenagers on Thursday, January 24th from 8 – 9:30 am or 6:30 – 8:30 pm.
Snapchat. Instagram. iMessage. YouTube. Fortnite. These media and gaming platforms are all part of daily life for many teenagers, readily accessible at any time, day or night, from smartphones, laptops, and other devices. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey indicated that 95% of teens have access to a smartphone. 45% reported they are online “almost constantly,” and another 44% said they are online “several times a day.” Teens reported using Snapchat (35%), YouTube (32%), and Instagram (15%) most often, and 97% of teenage boys reported playing video games (Anderson & Jiang, 2018). How has technology and media use become so pervasive for teens?
One reason may be the aspects of social media platforms and games designed to “hook” teens. For example, Snapchat has a feature called “Snapstreaks,” which requires Snapchat friends to exchange photos daily for three days to start a “streak.” They must then continue to exchange a picture daily, or the streak will expire. Maintaining Snapstreaks has become important to many teens and even has some sharing their passwords with friends or parents to maintain their streaks for them if they won’t have access to the site or their device for some reason.
Fortnite is a gaming phenomenon that has gone viral. While there is some debate about how violence in video games may impact teens, there is no question that these games are designed to keep players coming back. The graphics and fast pace of the game draw players in. Fortnite also capitalizes on elements of luck that keep teens playing. As their skill in the game improves, teens may get drawn in by the “near miss” phenomenon - “Instead of feeling as if they’ve lost, players may feel as if they’ve nearly won,” and they keep playing with the belief they will win the next game (Damour, 2018). This is similar to the experience of gambling, which was recently added to the DSM-5 as a potential type of addiction.
As technology and social media have become more ubiquitous in the lives of teens, it has become an ever-increasing topic in my conversations with students and their parents. How can parents help their digital natives navigate the potential pitfalls and capitalize on the benefits of a connected life?
For more information about this important topic, attend Episcopal’s screening of the documentary, Screenagers, on Thursday, January 24th at 8:00 to 9:30 AM and 6:30 to 8:30 PM. RSVP to your division counselor:
Anderson, M. & Jiang, J. (2018). Teens, Social Media, & Technology 2018. Pew Research Center Internet & Technology. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/.
Damour, L. (2018). Parenting the Fortnite Addict. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/30/well/family/parenting-the-fortnite-addict.html.
Rennert, L., Denis, C., Peer, K., Lynch, K.G., Gelernter, J., & Kranzler, H.R. (2014). DSM-5 Gambling Disorder: Prevalence and Characteristics in a Substance Use Disorder Sample. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 22 (1), 50-56. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4019046/.
Jodi Manton has served as the Upper School Counselor since 2015 where she provides academic and social/emotional services to Upper School students and their families. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC), and Certified School Counselor. She has a master's degree in education with a concentration in mental health counseling and a Certificate of Education Specialist with a concentration in school counseling from Louisiana State University.