New Age Addiction

A teenage son wanted to open an account on social media channels however the father was apprehensive. He did not want the boy to be exposed to social media situations so early.

“Dad all my friends are already online and they keep posting pics and other stuff. Oh come on what is the big deal. Why cant I open an account myself. “

“Son do you know social media is a double edged gift like fire which can help you cook but can also singe you. So unless one is mindful of the negative consequences of social media one gets bedeviled by them very quickly.”

“What negative consequence dad. Arent you being paranoid here as everybody is already there”.

“Son there are studied downsides that you have to take precautions for. To make you aware of the consequences, here are four of them with first two pointing towards cognitive functions impair and last two for personality attributes harm :

1) Too Distracting: You will always find people on their phones with various memes showing entire families on their individual devices. This not only takes away from bonding time with others but also makes us too stimulated. Do you know our brain needs downtimes to process the information it inputs. So unless you balance staring at your screens with staring out of your windows, you might be harming your memory and information recall.

2) Loss of critical thinking: since there is so much of information out there that critical thought around issues gets lost in sharing like minded posts, confirmation bias ideas and other biased searching aided with computer algorithms and personal search history cookies. So unless you actively seek ideas and opinions which challenge your thought you will end up increasing convictions around your original positions”.

“So dad are you saying that social media dumbs us down”.

“Well I am not saying that because it remains to be proven conclusively but yes I am saying that distracted opinionated people are not the smartest. Secondly in terms of personality traits there are certain things which warrant caution:

1) Self Esteem: People posting their latest brand acquisitions, exotic travel holidays, career achievements can have a severe impact on your view of yourself. Those are edited self projections that people want you to believe however they lead us to compare our life unfavorably with theirs. So it is like watching celebrities partying without being told of their troubles and insecurities. Overall these half truths can enhance our negative view of ourselves.

2) Peer Pressure: If your friend acquired a car or went for foreign travel, the pressure on you to do likewise increases. In show business you are as treasured as your last celebrity selfie. This competition can lead to waste, additional expenses and increased pressure to conform.”

“So dad because of all these things I should not be signing up on various channels” son was disappointed.

“Son since you are 18 so I do not want to stop you. However promise me that you will do these things while you are online:

1) Avoid flame wars with others. Opinions do not change by personal debates.

2) Actively seek contrary opinions to yours and check if they have logical merit.

3) Try to catch the bias inherent in most posts as they are propagating one side or other.

4) Laugh inwardly on widespread narcissism of people as they share intimate details of their routines like food they eat, movies they watch, photos they click at locales and with others….etc.

5) Lastly, allocate a time for being on social media. Since it has low entry barrier does not mean you start to live there all through the day”.

“Promise dad” Son was happy.

“Ok Son. I will be watching” father cautioned.

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