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.