I recently had an opportunity to hear from Aime Konwinski. She is the founder of Smart Gen Society.
Her presentation particularly focused on the issues around social media. Here are statistics she gave us:
- 56% of 5-year-olds have their own digital device.
- The average age to get a smartphone in the US: 10 (roughly 4th grade).
- 94% of high schoolers use social media.
- 70% of middle schoolers use social media.
- 75% of fourth graders use social media (particularly Tik-Tok) in Omaha area.
- The average American teen spends 7 hours a day on digital media.
- Since 2019, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has seen a significant rise in cases- 97.5% increase.
- Roughly 60% of American children are struggling with depression or anxiety.
- 30% of colleges look at social media, and nearly 100% for prospective students in athletics or receiving scholarships.
And how does social media pay the bills?
- Meta (Facebook)- $115 billion in profit in 2021 from selling and profiting from user data.
- Netflix is second behind Meta from collecting and selling user data.
- Social media has about 700 data points on each user, worth .13 each. Each user is worth $91/month to a social media company.
In all this, she just wanted to alert us to the issues around social media and what we are giving up when we give our children access to social media. She did not even spend time on the dangers of online pornography.
Maybe your response is, “What can we do? Everyone else is giving electronics to their children. Our children will be left out.” That’s what I often hear from parents.
We can and must fight against this tsunami. Part of living counter-culturally is thinking through a strategic digital plan. We don’t have to do what everyone is doing. We don’t have to toss in the towel.
Smart Get Society has a very helpful four page worksheet. They call it their Smart Family Digital Plan. As far as I know, neither she nor her nonprofit are coming from an evangelical perspective, but I think you will find this worksheet helpful.
In this plan, there is a place for parents and children to discuss and write out what is decided about:
- Appropriate Age Limits
- Digital Physical Boundaries around the House
- Family Technology Times
- Usernames and Passwords
- Behavioral and Communication Agreements
In addition, she has several other 60 second guides to social media. You can find those here. Her nonprofit also helps parent report crimes if there is a problem with online stalking.
Take a look at the Smart Family Digital Plan. Let me know what you think.
Praying for your family discipleship.