Social media makes parenting so much harder (JEFF EDELSTEIN COLUMN) – Trentonian

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As the parent of a 13-year-old boy—and two girls, ages 12 and 9—I recognize that I am entering a dangerous time.

I mean, I was a teenager once. Age 13 through 19 were technically my teenage years—duh—but they lasted quite a long time until I was, oh, 32 or 33.

The point is this: I thought I knew best, parents are stupid, shut up and get out of my way.

When I was a teenager, my parents struggled with my obnoxiousness while also worrying about the stupid stuff I would do.

For example: Two weeks after I got my driver’s license, my parents spied on me speeding. I did about 70 in 25.

Then there was the drunk driving which I assume they knew about? I don’t know.

And add all that typical teenage hoo-ha and whatnot, and it probably wasn’t easy raising a teenager in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

But it was also probably 100 times easier to raise a teenager than it is today, and the main reason for that is social media.

When social media first appeared, I thought that was the biggest thing. Something that connects the world! Kumbaya!

Well today I realize that social media is the worst thing there is and I pretty much only use it to follow fantasy football news.

Not even joking: While I’m not going to blame social media for all of today’s societal problems, it’s clear that it’s been a fire accelerator. And it definitely makes teenagers — especially girls — miserable.

Study after study shows a huge increase in anxiety in this age group, and it’s clear – to me – that social media is a major driver.

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I am writing this today after the Chatham School District filed lawsuits against Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Google and YouTube, alleging the sites have caused “serious psychological harm” to students. Of course, this follows the absolutely tragic suicide of a 14-year-old girl who was assaulted at Central Regional High School and whose beatings were posted all over social media.

Now: Do I think this lawsuit is going anywhere? Almost certainly not. Seems like a long shot. And this: Did people beat each other up in front of social media? Naturally.

But — and this is the worst thing about social media — it just never ends. Literally. If we were having a bad day in high school, or if a bully had attacked us or made fun of us, we could leave school by 3 p.m. and have the next 18 hours or so to be free from our bullies.

Today, thanks to social media, around the clock.

And it’s not just this objectively awful stuff. You can follow friends and see where they are – and wonder why you weren’t invited. You can scroll Doom. You can just waste your life watching TikTok. You can try to emulate YouTube stars and wonder why you only have two followers.

The list seems endless.

And as a parent, you’re kind of tied down. Ideally, we would never have let our son on social media. Then COVID happened, and we gave in, thinking — rightly so, sort of — that he needed it to keep up with friends.

Now the cat is out of the bag and all over social media. Not as much as some of his friends, but more than others. And what should parents do? Forbid the child to do this entirely and legitimately separate them from their peers? Can’t really.

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It’s a no-win situation.

The only thing that might work is a real age limit. For example, you need a social security number to open a social media account. age verification. It’s simple – look at sports betting sites – and it could go a long way towards keeping our kids sane.

Something has to change or we as adults in the room just aren’t doing our job.