As kids, we like to be silly. Somewhere this must be ingrained into us as humans because it slips out even in adulthood; we just get more guarded. What’s alarming though, is that – I’ve been learning – adolescence is creeping into adulthood.
This is crazy –> In 1904 when the term “adolescence” was coined by a guy named G. Stanley Hall, adolescence began at age 14.5 and ended at 16 (just 1.5 years). Today, it begins at about age 10 and ENDS AT AGE 30-ish (a period of 20 years…WHAT!?!?!?). Read more about it from this guy.
This means that kids are taking longer to grow up. I had the thought that social media could be partly to blame. Here’s why:
Have you heard of Snapchat? Of course you have. But for those who haven’t, it’s the social media app where you can take a picture or video, send it to someone, and then it “goes away” after a few seconds. Snapchat was created in 2011, and as of January is closing in on 200 million users, with 71% being age 18-34. What’s crazy is the rapid growth of Snapchat and the high percentage of young users.
I’m still trying to make sense of why someone would want to use this app. The obvious answer is you want to send (bad) stuff that can’t be retrieved. That would of course be a big concern (and you should talk with your kids about it) but I’m not convinced the majority of kids are using it for this purpose, so don’t jump to that conclusion with them.
I’m actually more concerned about what I DO see them posting: pure nonsense. Which brings us back to being silly and the broadening range of adolescence.
On Snapchat you’ll see kids walking around yelling, doing something weird in class, or posting random pictures of someone just sitting doing nothing. And much of this seems to serve no purpose; not even humor.
So I ask, what does this accomplish for them? Is it just kids being silly? Fine. But what good can it possibly serve? Is there a correlation between poor grades, low motivation, etc and the use of social media (especially in the Snapchat context)? Not all kids fall into this category, but is it growing among this demographic?
Is it possible that constant nonsense on social media is contributing to the extended age range of adolescence? (I’m starting to sound like my father)
I don’t know for sure, but it begs the question and it raises the importance of challenging kids to acts of significance. We’ll attempt to spark the discussion at Renew and I hope you’ll have these conversations at home. Let us know how it goes!