Is Social Media Controlling Your Teen? 8 Proven Ways to Manage Social Media


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As I write this article it’s important for me to state the obvious… teens are not the only ones who are addicted to social media and mobile devices. These handy dandy little pocket computers are an issue for most of us. With that said, teenagers are more distracted than ever and it’s become a concern for educators and parents alike. 

The good news is that there are some recommended ways for all of us to manage our social media use by understanding the reasons why social media is addicting and change some of the settings on our phones. 


During lunch the other day, I observed five teenagers parked at a cafe table all while their thumbs were operating at lighting speed scrolling through their phones. Each kid was buried in the depths of their smartphone. There were no conversations between the five of them.

This is not an uncommon sight these days considering teens spend an average of nine hours a day on their phones. Yes, nine hours a day, that’s a day of work! From filming a Snapchat video, taking a selfie or freaking out about the number of likes on a friend’s Instagram, distraction seems inevitable. And so darn annoying!! Teens don’t talk to each other face to face as much as they should, we all know that.   As a matter of fact, they tend to communicate more through the means of social media than personal interactions.  


A decade ago, parents of young children were worried about the effects of TV violence and some music. Now , the concern is “screen time” a catchall term for the time our youth spend in front of their computers, smartphones, digital tablets, TV’s and video games.   Undoubtedly, the parent’s concerns are valid. In fact, I recently watched the IndiFlix original documentary film “Like” that explores the impact of social media on our lives and the effects of technology on the brain. It’s alarming to realize we are all being manipulated by social media.

Why are we so addicted? 

Our society and especially our teens are being hijacked by technology. The addiction to our devices is a more significant problem than it appears because social media is being designed to form addictive behavior. Not surprising, it’s all about making money in the world of technology.  

In fact, according to The Center For Human Technology, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google have produced productive tools that have benefited the world enormously. However, these companies are a caught in the race for our attention, which they need in order to make money. Forced continuously to outperform their competitors, they must use increasingly persuasive techniques to keep us glued. Social media points to news feeds, content, and notifications at our minds, continually learning how to hook us more.

Based on this, we need to  educate our children to understand how and why to self regulate screen time, will empower them to create a balance in their lives and learn better communication skills.  

How does social media addiction work? 

Child psychologist Laura Kastner, Ph.D. believes it’s essential that both parents and teens know how tech and social media platforms such as Instagram and SnapChat work on a brain-body level.

We yearn for things that make us feel really good: Instagram feeds, shopping networks, ‘belongingness’ through Facebook connection — and all those ‘likes.’”

“Social media platforms prey on another important brain system — the threat network” adds Kastner.

“We respond to perceived threats in our environment with anxiety and fear. Marketers know that if you make people afraid, you can sell them solutions. If you are feeling excluded, inadequate, vulnerable or anxious, tech can sell you membership and connection,” – Kastner.

How do you manage and self regulate? 

The LIKE film outlined many ways to start the process to manage the use of social media. The first step is to understand the issues and how social media is controlling us. The second step is the turn the table and become the one in control. 

     The Center For Human Technology suggests the following:

•    Turn Off All Notifications – Notifications appear in red dots because the color red is a trigger color for urgency. 

•    Go Grayscale– Color icons give our brains shiny awards every time we unlock. Set your phone to grayscale.

•    Charge your phone outside the bedroom. 

•    Don’t’ look at your phone before you go to bed. 

•    Download apps that help you live without distraction. For ideas go to

•    Talk To Your Kids and let them know that they are being controlled by technology. Kids don’t like to be controlled by anything. 

•    Go Cold Turkey and delete all social media

•    Set a Good Example for your kids

The Like short documentary clearly defines the pros and cons of social media. Well qualified experts in psychology, media are interviewed, as are teens. Catch a screening in your town if possible.

I would also recommend the film Screenagers, another documentary film that reveals how tech-time impacts kids’ development and offers solutions on how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance. 

Take Away:  

Social Media is controlling many of us (teens and adults) so we all need to take the wheel and manage how we react and use social media. Start taking the necessary steps to regulate how you and your kids use social media.  Please let me know if any of these recommendations to manage social media work for you and your family. I want to know! 




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