Let's face it, our teens live in a new world which most of us absolutely and without a doubt did not grow up in. Our teens live in one world where they are in face-to-face contact with others as well as in living a virtual world with others. This is not news to anyone who has seen a group of teens standing in front of a high school texting instead of talking to each other. And, I have often wondered if they may at times simply be texting their moms. After all, their friends are right there next to them.
It seems that every day a new cutting edge social platform is developed presenting our teens with new social outlets. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are huge and almost passé for teens. Social Times recently reported on five of the most popular social network platforms amongst teens: Vine, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram and Ask.FM.
So much of the data supports the impression that teens cannot live without social media. According to Common Sense Media practically every American teenager uses social media. Listen to this -- approximately two-thirds of our teens text every single day. Other research findings also support heavy use of social media among teens. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that -- get this -- up to 95 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 are online in some manner.
I am quite sure that this is not a wake-up call for any one of us. I have always suspected, however, that our teens can and could live without social media for days or even weeks at a time if they are otherwise occupied. I have spoken to many, many teens who have gone for weeks without access to technology when at summer camp or even while traveling. In order to start to get some input on this hypothesis I took to the streets with HooplaHa-Life with a Smile, a good news website, to see how parents and kids would answer the question How long can you (your teen) go without social media? Have a look here. You might be surprised by the teens' answers. Certainly their parents were. There was considerable discrepancy between how long teens said they could live without social media and how long their parents thought they could remain comfortably unplugged. In almost all cases parents underestimated how long their teens thought that they could stay unplugged. Perhaps the teens are over-estimating their abilities or perhaps not. If you want to have some fun, ask your kids how long they could last without social media and see how they answer. If they surprise you with their response, see if they would be willing to test the proposition.
The takeaway messages from our little survey and everything else we know are that:
1. Parents should try to limit teens' electronic time so that they can achieve some balance in their lives.
2. Perhaps phones should be charged outside of bedrooms so kids can get some sleep.
3. Don't ever under-estimate your kids!