Netflix recently released a documentary called the Social Dilemma. This is film is part interview, part family drama, part recreation of the Pixar Movie Inside Out.

In interviews with some of the primary behavioral and software engineers of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, we learn how these products are not only designed to be addictive, but also to change user’s behavior.

I think every parent who is on social media needs to watch, and every parent of a child who is on social media should watch it with their children. Here are some of my key takeaways from the documentary.

Show Highlights

The drug industry and the social media industry are the only two industries that refer to their customers as “users.” But, you may not realize that you are not the customer of the social media industry. As a customer, you would have to be paying for the product, but someone else is – advertisers. With social media, you are the product. Advertisers pay social media platforms to influence you into long term behavioral change.

As parents, it is alarming to know that our kids are not sophisticated enough to pick up on the nuance that social media is manipulating them like a tool.

Posts become engaging when they are shocking, outrageous, or incites strong emotions. Social media also tends to show you more and more of what you are biased towards. This makes us eventually see things only from one side and view the other side with contempt.

What makes conversation more difficult than contempt? This is being fueled by the social media platforms that we are on.

Protecting our children’s privacy is another very important consideration when it comes to social media. But, social media is reaching a point where it’s not just about your privacy. It’s about changing who you are – ever more so with your kids.

Together with the normalization of young people having their own gadgets and being on social media at an early age, as a youth pastor I have noticed a much higher rate of pornography addiction among young men and women, higher rates of self-esteem issues and suicide than ever before.

To be a good example to my kids, I have deleted my social media apps from my phone so that I am not compelled to check notifications all day. If I want to get on my social media accounts, I have to wait to get on my computer at home. I have found that being on social media less has made me more engaged with actual human beings. I want to model to my children that this is not something that has to rule our life.

Think about how social media has changed your behavior and attitude. Has it raised your level of jealousy? Has it raised your level of isolation or loneliness? Has it raised your level of true connectedness? If you see unhealthy fruits from your habits, maybe you have to go on a social media diet.

I have found that being on social media less has made me more engaged with actual human beings. I want to model to my children that this is not something that has to rule our life. Click To Tweet

Resources Mentioned

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