I enjoyed spending some time reading this post by Daniel Willingham, “Give a kid a computer…what does it do to her social life?”. He discussed a number of studies in this regard, some findings and the limitations of the data. Please read his post for the further links and insights he provided.
In addition to his good points, I related to his concern he wrote about in the last paragraph:
My real concern about digital technology use in teens is hard to quantify. When I was a teen I, like most, probably assigned too much value to the opinions of my peers. They necessarily stopped influencing me when I got off the school bus, and I was influenced mostly by my parents and two sisters. I don’t relish the thought of children taking their peer groups home with them in their pockets, influencing them 24/7, and diminishing the impact of their families.”
A book by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté, Hold on to Your Kids, came to my mind, but before I could add the comment, someone already had thought of their work and done so,
The comments you make in your final paragraph remind me very much of what Gordon Neufeld says of the rise in peer group influence and the correlative decline of parent/family influence in the lives of children and teens.”
I am not always sure what to make of some of the studies about the impacts of digital media on children, teens and family life, but I do think the impacts of social media and instant messaging/texting need to be examined separately. They are often intertwined, but attention to each may vary (my most recent post about texting and relationships here).
I still feel relieved that my children didn’t have their “peers in their pockets” until their late teens. Maybe the conversations in families are starting sooner now and the impacts may change. New parents may be having very different conversations and decisions to make right from the start now: The ‘joy’s of digital media in new parenting.