Have you ever grounded your teen from social media as a form of negative consequence for bad behavior? A new study indicates that while there are benefits for teens who voluntarily take a break from social media, those benefits do not extend to teens who have been forced off of it. Teens grounded from social media can experience more anxiety than parents may realize.
A study from The Associated Press and NORC at the University of Chicago surveyed 790 American teens age 13 to 17 about their social media, messaging, and video content habits.
The goal of the study was to understand if and why teens take breaks from the social media platforms that are so prominent in the digital lives of most teens. Data for the study was collected between December 7, and December 31, 2016.
The report found that teens do take breaks from social media. Sometimes they do it by choice – and other times they are forced to by their parents. The data showed that 58% of teens who use social media have taken at least one break from the various platforms they use.
It also showed that 23% of teens who have not taken a break from social media have wanted to take one. About half of teens say that their social media breaks are typically a week or longer.
Teens that leave social media voluntarily (even if it is just a temporary break) said they felt more positive about their time away. The teens who voluntarily took breaks from social media were more likely to report that they had more time to do other things, that they were glad to have a break, and that they felt relieved. They also said the break helped them feel more connected to important people in their lives.
On the other hand, teens that were forced to take a break from social media said they felt anxious and disconnected. This group of teens reported greater feelings of missing out and disconnection from some important people in their lives. They reported feeling anxious and wanted to get back on social media as soon as possible. They said they felt less connected to the important people in their lives.
The study found that teens who have not taken a social media break said they stay on because they don’t want to miss out on what is going on (56%). They also said social media is where they find out what is happening in the world (44%). It is easy to see why a teen who is experiencing “FOMO” (fear of missing out) or who no longer has an easy way to learn what’s happening in the world, would feel anxious.
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