A group of young people prepared a couple of podcasts aimed at raising awareness of the risks associated with the inappropriate use of social media
A few months ago, Dianova participated in an online event organized by CAS Trips, an organization whose goal is to harness the potential of experiential learning for the benefit of students while generating a lasting and positive impact on the community at large. At the event, a hackathon-style competition was held with the sixty or so young participants. This was a group exercise to design an innovative project in the field of mental health and wellbeing.
Preventing risky behaviour
The winning project, entitled “Socially (Dis) Connected”, consisted of creating two podcasts highlighting the potentially negative consequences of social media use on young people, as well as the involvement of families in preventing risky behaviour.
This initiative was then implemented with the financial support of CAS Trips and later on served as support material for the “Together, We Grow. Families as Health Agents” campaign. In total, six podcasts were produced and are now available to listen to on different platforms, including Spotifiy and Apple Podcasts. The six 4-6 minute episodes cover various aspects of risky behaviour and its consequences for teenagers, such as online harrassment and screen time overuse (themes of the two podcasts written by the winning team) but also the role of families and the ways in which they can help their teenagers in difficulty and better understand this special time in our lives, adolescence.
The following text was written by the four young people behind the winning project: Stella Cook, Ryan Kanter, Rachel Ruiz, and Shaharyar Siddiqui
Addiction to social media
Social media addiction in youths is a very prevalent issue in today’s society. Young people are frequently chastised and even mocked by adults for the amount of time we spend on social media platforms and electronic devices.
Contrary to what the adults may think, time spent on devices isn’t just wasting time, or young people being lazy. Social media can be a tremendous tool for connecting, informing, raising awareness, developing feelings of empathy, etc. The downside is when normal, healthy use of the social media platforms turns into obsessive use and later on, into full-fledged addiction.
Educating parents and tutors
Due to the severe and largely unknown nature of social media addiction, when presented with the task of coming up with a project to help educate people on ways to combat different types of addictions, we decided that we would focus on the negative effects of social media addiction in youths, and on how to educate parents to prevent these negative effects. By educating parents and guardians about the harmful effects of their children’s use of devices, we hope to better equip them to help their children break these unhealthy habits and find alternatives to screen time.
Consequences on mental health…
Compulsive social media use can lead to a wide range of problems. We divided these negative effects into two categories: those affecting mental health, and those physical health. Initially, we discussed the negative mental effects of obsessive use of social media platforms that we ourselves had experienced. For example, insecurities caused by comparing oneself to other people as presented online, potentially leading to depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
…And on physical health
We also came to realize that there were many negative physical consequences as well. Slouching from looking down at a screen all day is very bad for posture, and the blue light emitted from screens can cause blurred vision, and, in extreme cases, blindness.
There is also a strong connection between augmented time on devices and childhood obesity; when children are spending their time online, they lose time that could be spent doing physical activity such as playing sports, going for walks, and even simply running around with their friends. This lack of physical activity can cause obesity in these children, which in turn can lead to type II diabetes later in their lives.
Also, overuse of screens has been linked to short attention spans in youths in recent years; when children are constantly being entertained by an algorithm made to keep their focus, it’s easy for them to get bored of the real world.
Informing and preventing through podcasts
We decided that the best way to share this information was through a podcast. A podcast is accessible and engaging; you can listen to it in the car, at home, while you’re exercising, or doing chores around the house. By having this information transmitted as a podcast, we could also have multiple speakers, sharing multiple points of view. We could have people speaking from personal experience and experts explaining what excessive social media can do to children and adolescents.
In collaboration with Dianova, we have written two episodes of a podcast outlining the negative physical and mental effects of obsessive use of social media and electronic devices as well as what adults can do to help. We hope that this podcast can serve to educate parents so they can better help their children and adolescents face these problems.