Is it too late to log out from bad habits?
Do we need time restrictions on how much time we can spend online?
by Aurora Buccheri
As I reach hour number four of scrolling down my facebook feed I stumble upon an article that grabs my attention: “Has social media kidnapped your children?”
Just from the headline, it is easy to guess that the article will argue the affirmative. There are hundreds of these sorts of articles – arguing that the younger generation is rotting their own brains by staring at their phones all day.
What is worth noting, is that while it is unlikely that this same question would have ever occurred to our parents or grandparents, today it is evident how this concern is growing among mums and dads. Nowadays parents are suffering sleepless nights worrying about the extensive amount of time spent on social media by their children. More now than ever, as study after study across the globe confirms just how bad the impact of social media on young people’s mental health.
Hot off the presses, the UK’s Secretary of Health and Social Care Matt Hancock has announced a proposal to create a set of social media guidelines for young people. The objective is to make these guidelines become the ‘’norm’’, like the recommended maximum alcohol consumption for adults, or the common-sense rules of crossing the street looking at both sides.
The solution proposed by the guidelines is not as radical as we might think: rather than blocking access to social media to a selected age-range, the new rules – which are still a work-in-progress – intend to regulate the number of hours spent by youngsters on social platforms. The new rules intend to reduce the negative impacts of cyberbullying, sleep problems, online gaming and internet addiction.
As soon as Hancock unveiled the new regulations there was something of a backlash. It is the view of many that it’s not just a matter of time spent on social media, but rather it’s the content of the World Wide Web that has to be regulated in order to shield teenagers from dangerous and harmful sources.
As idealistic as restrictions on social may seem, there are some solid grounds to consider this intervention necessary: not only do we lose track of the time we spend on social media, but we also tend to underestimate the value of those endless hours. I for one can easily spend hours on my phone and completely lose track of the time.
These new guidelines challenge how we see the problem entirely. Even if we are no longer naive 12-year-olds and are not yet overly concerned parents, every one of us – regardless of age – could use some extra support for managing the time that we spend on our phones. No matter how old we are, or tech savvy we become, we are all at risk of ending up being kidnapped by social media.