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We recorded episode 42 of the Parenting Bytes podcast almost a week ago, right after the news broke that Australian social media star Essena O’Neill was giving up most of her social media accounts and telling fellow teenagers that online life is not real.
I was still digesting what she’d done and my attitude at the time was basically “Good for her. Teens need to hear this from someone they’ll actually listen to.” I mean, this is a message that people I know (who are more than 20 years past being teenagers) still haven’t gotten, so I thought Essena was (finally) setting a good example.
But after reading what a bunch of other people had to say about it, I’m really not sure what to think. The L.A. Times called her a “false revolutionary.” Many people have reacted with a big “Duh!” to the statements that her Instagram pictures were carefully staged, took hours to get perfect, and were often sponsored (but not disclosed). However, I think these people would do well to remember who a lot of her audience was.
Sure, many of her followers were probably middle-aged men. But many were also fellow teens craving the same kind of validation. And a lot of those kids might be taking those perfect Instagram shots at face value. For while it’s easy to discount what she did as calculated (she had a website all ready), it’s a message that hopefully got through to a lot of teen girls.
That was actually our second topic, though. Our first topic was a new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics that outlines just how much screen time very young kids get. It’s a lot.
And as usual we give our Bytes of the Week!
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