GANDER, NL – Once considered luxury devices, smartphones are now commonly seen in the hands of young and old.
These devices easily allow users to “connect” with other friends and make new ones online. With the installation of an “app” or application, and a sign-up procedure to use a service, a user can potentially connect to hundreds of others through a variety of linking relationships in the application.
The choices of social media applications are many – in the forefront of popularity are Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.
Erica Lush is concerned about the use of social media and how it affects teenagers. Lush, a youth pastor at Spruce Hills Community Church, has a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. She has been working alongside teenagers aged 13 to 17 for over 10 years.
In a recent presentation to youth, Lush highlighted the use of social media and how studies show a disturbing correlation between its use and teen depression, anxiety, relational conflict, and rise of self-harm and suicide.
“It was an eye-opening experience for them,” said Lush. “They never fully realized how a very innocent, often mindless decision to be connected on the social media platform has had, and will continue to have, some major impact on their quality of life, cognitive development and their relationships.”
Even though a youth may realize social media is causing an issue or conflict in their lives, according to Lush, “as a teenager, they don’t have the tools or the skills to be able to make those cognitive decisions, that this is a healthy choice for me.”
Lush believes parents should be engaged in the conversation and help their children navigate the realms of internet and social media.
“Oftentimes they need that structure and guidance from a parent or guardian who is able to make those decisions and set some boundaries and parameters for them,” Lush said.
Lush will lead a seminar catered specifically for parents to address these concerns.
“Plugged in Parent” will be held Nov. 18 from 9a.m. to 2p.m. at Evangel Pentecostal Church. The event is free to the public.