COM0011: Social media = kids don’t care


I’m sure we’ve all thought about how social media is changing youth. I’ve decided to delve into it a bit further since I came across this news piece on The National a couple weeks ago – How Social Media is Affecting Teens (YouTube). Here are a few key points:

  • Before, the #1 priority of teenagers was to be ‘part of the crowd’ and ‘part of the community. Now, it’s money and fame.
  • The change in values is partly due to social media and TV content communicating this concept of fame. TV shows in the 50s communicated the values of family and having a sense of community.
  • Neuroscientists in BC mapped brain activity and found that while engaged in social media, the parts of the brain active in daydreaming (doing nothing) and thinking of our feelings are shut off.
  • The parts that are shut off are responsible fo the ability to self-reflect and reflect on other people — empathy.
  • Q:  Do you every just watch the clouds go by? How much time do you spend just doing that – daydreaming?  Young girl: Like 30 seconds a day.

A  less empathic generation to come? That doesn’t sound good at all. But Jeremy Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization states that “We [all humans] are soft-wired with mirror neurons… for sociability, attachment, affection, companionship and that the first drive is the drive to actually belong – it’s an empathic drive.”  It’s a saving grace to know that the ability to empathize is innate.
Check out the RSA animate of this concept of an empathic civilization.

Do you notice the rise in the media urging us to be more conscious of the amount of time we’re engaged online?  I definitely am more aware now because of these flags.  Bus rides home are a pefect time to sort thoughts, feelings… daydream.  And as someone young-ish myself (27), I do see noticeable differences in how younger youth internalize their surroundings or the happenings in their life. I can see it now…

Parent: What do you think of it?

“Yeah, I guess it’s ok.”

                                                      – Kid from 21st century


                                                       – Kid from 22nd century
(assuming parent is not Kid from 21st century)


There’s bound to be a shift resisting this effect of social media. I don’t know if it will only take some kind of 12-step recovery. I say, put Care Bears back on TVO. And Bob Ross reruns! Let’s start young.

6 thoughts on “COM0011: Social media = kids don’t care

  1. Do you think that the desire to be more famous and have more money is not that poeple want to belong less but maybe the fact that because of social media people feel like they do belong and because of that when measuring these desires the results are different than previous generation?
    As for the Care Bears on TVO – ICK!
    Paw Patrol is my fav, just wish they had more episodes. You can only rescue Chickaletta so many times before you want to batter her up and deep fry her (hopemy son does not read this post).

  2. As with your point, come to think of it, I agree! Money and fame, I suppose, have always been a driver. It is only now, through social media as one influence, that it has been adapted early on by youngsters. Aw come on, care bears was great for pre-schoolers! 😛

  3. Great points! It’s especially interesting about the teenager priorities. When I first joined Myspace back in the day, it was just “the thing to do” at school. I mean really, it was more about putting your best friends in your top 8 and being in the in-crowd. You see young teens (I can’t believe I’m old enough to be saying that) on Youtube now who are making it big and partnering with brands. Or even Megan and Joey on the Amazing Race as famous video bloggers! Definitely a shifting mindset…

  4. Well, I am on the opposite end of youngish — the oldish end — and I am not convinced that social media is responsible for making teens want to be famous. I think everyone in my generation dreamed of being a movie star or a famous musician. The difference now is that more teens have a chance to actually become famous because the tools for self-promotion are there. They do not have to wait for a producer or the start system to take them on. If they are talented or just good at getting noticed, they can have us all watching them, listening to them. or reading about them because of the ability of online content to go viral without a company distribution system.

  5. Your point about the bus ride as a perfect time for reflection made me acknowledge on our inability to reflect due to constantly accessible technology. Those quiet times in the day, the bus ride, when you first wake-up or just before bedtime are moments that are no longer quiet and perfect for reflection.

    They are filled with checking emails, posting on Facebook and texting back and forth. Rather than absorbing and savouring those quiet moments, we are filling them with unimportant, distracting tasks that really don`t need to be addressed at that very moment.

    I am consciously trying to put my phone down and take back those quiet reflective moments – who`s with me!?

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