Experts urge parents to wean children off social media


SUNDAY Special

Lucknow, April 21: After the tragic death of 19-year-old Shivansh who fell into a water tank and died while making a reel for social media, psychology experts have asked parents to work in coordination with the schools to provide love, recognition and validation that young people seek on social media, even while putting their lives in danger.

Clinical psychologist and former head of the psychology department at Lucknow University, Prof Pallavi Bhatnagar said young people want to be noticed, even if it means losing relationships.

She explained that in a fast-changing world, relationships often suffer. Youngsters seek recognition, security and belonging, so they turn to the Internet for support. “They think doing unique things will get them attention and make them feel good, like a drug. This makes them constantly crave more attention and try to outdo others,” she said.

Prof Adarsh Tripathi from the psychiatry department of the King George’s Medical University (KGMU) here said that five to six young patients struggling with social media addiction and having suicidal feelings, visit him daily. They make risky or explicit content. When people see it, they want more to be seen, which keeps them hooked.

Social media gives a dopamine rush in the brain, like an addiction, said the experts.

To counter this trend, Prof Bhatnagar suggested parents should pay attention and tell them not to take the Internet too seriously. Group discussions should be arranged at school, keeping in mind the risky stuff they might do.

Prof Tripathi suggested holding off on giving adolescents smartphones with social media. “Playing outdoor sports can also help in controlling the urge to make reels or view it,” he added.

In an interesting observation, it has been seen that all UP Board top scorers have one thing in common, they are ‘inactive’ on social media.

The toppers said that board preparation is incomplete without daily revisions and one should be trusting classroom teaching rather than running after knowledge from the Internet and coaching classes.

Though born in the times of social media reel popularity, these toppers maintained a safe distance from social media.

Almost all the toppers said that they preferred reading books instead of being active on social media.