How to Navigate Online Media with Teenagers

Put that thing down!

This was Betsy’s first response when I asked a group of moms, “What comes to mind when you hear the phrase ‘social media’?” The room burst out in laughter.

I was listening to parents talk about these concerns as part of a project with the Fuller Youth Institute, because the amount of time young people spend using digital devices seems to be one of the most pressing challenges for parents today. It feels like young people are tethered to their phones, constantly glancing or full-on staring into a screen. But before we judge kids or insist they “put that thing down,” we need to understand what today’s digital world is like, and what motivates young people to check their devices so frequently.

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