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Are Your Kids Addicted to Social Media?

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Dr. Wendy Walsh: Recently, I spent the weekend with friends who have a beautiful home full of amenities -- except for one crucial thing: no cell-phone reception for my BlackBerry to pick up static from the world.


Since I am "over 40," I have experience with such foreign territory, so I barely noticed the silence and wondered at the crazy series of beeps that my device erupted into when I finally drove back into cellular range. I also wondered how my 11-year-old would have fared under such conditions.

It seems that kids today are downright addicted to text, the Internet, cell phones and social networking, and there's a new study to back that up. Per the study, University of Maryland researchers found that most college students are not just unwilling, but functionally unable to be without their electronic links to the world. The students described their withdrawal symptoms not unlike how a drug addict would, using terms such as "frantically craving," "very anxious," "extremely antsy," "miserable," "jittery" and "crazy."

If you worry that your adolescent or teen might be addicted to social media, now is the time to do some family weaning so they can learn self-control and use tech stuff more responsibly. In my house, I have four hard-and-fast rules:

1) No social media until all homework and long-term projects have been completed. (Trust me: This is a huge incentive for kids to get their academic work done.)

2) No social media during family dinnertime. Period. I don't care if the most pressing show is airing on TV or if Justin Bieber is debuting his new video on YouTube; if it happens on a screen at 6 PM, it doesn't happen in my house.

3) All media "powers down" one hour before bedtime. That gives the brain a chance to disengage and relax before sleep. By the way, this is a great time to encourage that archaic habit called "reading."

My kids also have one hard-and-fast rule that they have made me adhere to: When they are in the car, I'm not allowed to text, e-mail or talk on the phone -- Bluetooth or no. My job is to focus on the road and referee their fights. And believe me, that's more than enough brain stimulation for any one human being.

next: Khloe: Keep Using Birth Control!
8 comments so far | Post a comment now
OUTRAGED!!! May 14, 2010, 5:54 AM

I believe these kids are growing up in a technological world and I agree it is not the best thing. I remember a time when you were considered a “drug dealer” if you carried a pager! Remeber that? LOL! Now we see kids as young as 6 and 7 with cell phones! I just hope that we as parents are able to remind out kids just how much fun it is to use your imagination and run around outside!

Anon May 14, 2010, 1:38 PM

We’re raising a generation of dumb kids that cannot think for themselves without the help of electronic gadgets.

common sense May 15, 2010, 3:38 PM

this is stupid
they arent addicted to pixels they are addicted to their relationships with their friends. its just something existent with this generation. its just a tool we have. its a tool to communicate and its something that we are used to. think about how it would feel to wake up and not be able to use your lips( a tool for communication) im sure you would be anxious and jittery if you wanted to tell someone something or just wanted them to know your not ignoring them (like if your phone was broken and couldnt reply to texts) basically the older generation is just over reacting to something they dont know about.

addicted to cell phone May 16, 2010, 8:47 AM

Why is it that the new generation always has to drag the old one with them? This is the way our society works now. Why call and focus solely on the call, when you can text the person the same information while you do other things? Social media is not a bad thing, I’m sure you can agree there, as i see the Facebook social program as I type this.

If you want to place blame though, do not put it on my generation. We wouldn’t have cell phones that could do more than your Windows 3.1, we wouldn’t have iPods that carry hundreds of gigabytes worth of music, and we wouldn’t have internet without the Baby Boom researching and inventing these very things.

18 yr old May 16, 2010, 6:45 PM

i hope when i see what happens during the next generations life span im not as scared of prgress as you are

Howard Stern May 19, 2010, 3:22 PM

What color is your cacacacaca Wendy?

Golf Clubs September 14, 2010, 10:39 AM

In related news, Tiger Woods is now a Cheetah.

evworld11223 February 25, 2011, 4:47 AM

These kind of articles are always attractive and I am happy to find so many good point here in the post, writing is simply great, thanks for sharing.
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