A new and fast-growing epidemic is affecting people of all ages across the globe: Overconnectedness.

While this may not be a recognized psychological disorder, it’s nonetheless very real and impacts people’s lives significantly.

Hired Power of Huntington Beach, California, sponsored a webinar to discuss this growing problem with Dr. Don Grant, an internationally award-winning media psychologist, published researcher, and addiction specialist. 

Healthy Device Management and Good Digital Citizenship

Healthy device management is becoming aware of your technology habits, fostering a healthy relationship with social media, and establishing sound practices to reduce the amount of time you spend on any digital device each day.

 Device management is essential to establish healthy boundaries and maintain your emotional well-being. Managing devices is how you take control of the technology so that technology doesn’t take control of you.

 What is good digital citizenship? Good digital citizenship means being responsible, respectful, wise, and caring about what we do online.

 Being good digital citizens is about more than simply not getting into trouble online. We should be thinking about how we can use the internet for good.

 What is good digital citizenship for a teenager? For teenagers, good digital citizenship means controlling how much time they spend online and teaching them how to connect and share content responsibly.

Pros and Cons of Online Anonymity

Online anonymity allows people to say what they want, when they want, to whom they want. This can be either good or bad. 

Anonymity can create a safe “space” for those who don’t have access to an in-person support group or those who aren’t comfortable sharing with others face-to-face. On the other hand, many people who post anonymously do so because they don’t want to be held accountable for their words or behavior.

Pros of Online Anonymity:

  • Anonymity can allow people who are too shy to speak their minds in public to express their thoughts and feelings.
  • There’s less fear of being judged or being seen as different.
  • The fear of criticism is diminished. 

Cons of Online Anonymity:

  • Anonymity can be used to spread hatred, racism, and abuse.
  • Online bullying is at its worst when done anonymously.
  • Anonymity creates an environment where people feel free to harass others.

Instill Family Values: Set an Example

Children learn from their parents, and they’ll follow what they see. If you have a set of values you want your children to follow, you need to model the behavior yourself. 

Instilling values means teaching your children honesty, respect, responsibility, kindness, and compassion. These values can be taught by speaking openly with your children and by demonstrating them in your everyday actions.

This principle extends to online behavior as well. Along with instilling general family values, talk to your children about your expectations for their online behavior. But make sure you model the desired behavior yourself. For example, if you tell your teen you expect them to be attentive at the dinner table but you text or check your email while eating, you’re undermining your message.

TV Versus Social Media: Active Versus Passive

When you watch TV, you’re sitting passively. That’s part of TV’s appeal—its ability to distract you and get you out of your thoughts after a hectic day. 

But while watching TV is considered a passive activity, social media can be viewed as an active activity because of the constant stream of information and the need to process and react to comments, pictures, and videos.

We’re free to choose whether to reply or post on social media. Still, the nature of social media is such that we feel compelled to do something—even if it’s as simple as “liking” a photo or re-tweeting a witty comment. Social media feels like an active activity because it often is.

A growing number of studies have found a link between social media use and depression in teenagers. Researchers found that young people who spend more than two hours a day on social media are more than twice as likely to report poor mental health, including symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

Writing Your Autobiography

Social media has become a new way to write your autobiography—using digital platforms to share your thoughts and post pictures of yourself and your life. While this may seem harmless, you need to remember that you’re creating a lasting digital footprint. This footprint, or digital shadow, follows you wherever you go. It’s there for all to see, for better or worse.

When you use social media, you’re publicizing your life to colleges, future employers and colleagues, friends, and family members. What may seem funny to you now might be offensive to someone else, and the opinions you share freely today might embarrass you in the future. 

Employers look at the social media pages of job candidates. If they see something that concerns them, they may simply decide not to hire you. Your social media history can lead to being fired from a job or not being hired at all.

It’s easy to say things in a post that you wouldn’t say face-to-face, especially if the post is anonymous or was written in a moment of anger or hurt. If a friend or family member reads something you’ve posted that’s rude, mean, or critical, they’ll be hurt by it. And because it’s so easy to share posts with others, your words can travel much faster than you can manage them.

Through social media participation, we write autobiographies we can never delete. Even if a post is later taken down, it can still be found.

Comparing and Despairing

Comparison is a common way social media can harm our mental health. When we compare ourselves to others, we do so in a biased and unfair way. The information we see on social media is carefully curated to present the best version of a person’s life, so it is easy to forget that what you see online is not the whole story.

This bias towards thinking that everyone but you has a perfect life can lead to feelings of inadequacy and depression. Social media can make us feel like we’re lacking or missing out.

These feelings aren’t accurate, but they can be hard to ignore when you see something new every day on your feed that makes you feel bad about yourself. The key to overcoming this sense of inferiority is remembering that those who seem perfect online are presenting only the best version of themselves and their lives.

Social Media Guidelines

Don’t ban social media for your teen, but set rules for safe usage.

Set boundaries. Have a family meeting to discuss what is and isn’t OK to post on social media. Make the rules together as a family, discussing why each rule is important. The rules should be clear, fair, and consistent. For example: 

  • Ask before sharing photos of other people.
  • Don’t post photos or videos that could embarrass others.
  • Don’t share personal information (e.g., your address) online.
  • If someone else posts something hurtful online, don’t respond to it.

It’s wise to make these rules as specific as possible. Talking about online safety and privacy can help your children become good digital citizens. 

Talk openly about cyberbullying. Help your child understand that cyberbullying is hurtful and wrong, just like any other form of bullying. 

Privacy, Connections, and Teens: What You Need to Know

While the internet offers many benefits, it can pose serious risks for teens, including: 

  • Privacy issues
  • Cyberbullying 
  • Posting inappropriate content
  • Inappropriate contact with strangers
  • Addiction or poor self-regulation

Teens are constantly bombarded with social media, messaging apps, and the pressure to be connected at all times, so it’s essential to educate them about the dangers of sharing too much personal information. 

Many teens don’t consider the consequences of sharing personal information online. They may think their accounts are private or feel safe because they only give personal information to select people they know and trust. Unfortunately, many social media sites aren’t secure, and private information can easily be shared with strangers without your knowledge.

What is Emotional Dysregulation?

Research has linked excessive use of social media to emotional dysregulation. 

Emotional dysregulation is a term that describes an inability to maintain emotional control or react to situations in socially acceptable ways. People who struggle with dysregulation may find themselves experiencing inappropriate levels of anger, anxiety, sadness, or other emotions at unexpected times. This can be frustrating and confusing for both the person with the symptoms and their friends, family, and loved ones.

Emotional dysregulation is often associated with psychiatric conditions such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, it’s also possible for people who don’t have these diagnoses to experience emotional dysregulation.

Is Internet or Social Media Use a Problem in Your Family?

Hired Power helps families across the country deal with addiction, mental health, and behavioral issues. To learn more about our services, contact us or call our Huntington Beach, CA, headquarters today at (800) 910-9299.