Our regular Parent Alert! news updates help parents stay ahead of the trends affecting kids in our hypersexualized culture.

digital detox

This month we’re covering headlines from the social media world: digital detox for teens; new research on mental health and social media; Tumblr bans pornography; and what’s going on with Celine Dion’s new fashion line for kids?

Here’s what’s trending in December 2018!

Hold the Phone! Is Your Child Ready for a Social Media Cleanse?

Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center reported that 45% of teens are online “almost constantly.” Amazingly, this is almost double the number of kids who reported this in 2014-2015!

At the same time, research shows that increased screen time among teens aged 14 – 17 is linked to mental health problems.

A digital detox for young teens

Now imagine a group of ten 13 and 14-year-old girls agreeing to forgo all social media for two whole weeks!  This meant deleting the apps from their phones – no exceptions!

Would this be a parent’s dream come true, or a nightmare from dealing with withdrawal symptoms?

It really happened! Good Morning America’s technology correspondent Becky Worley designed the detox and found willing participants for this social experiment. The feedback from the girls was powerful:

  • “I fell asleep a lot quicker than usual so was better rested for the day.”
  • “I spent so much more time outside.”
  • “I was more focused during homework.”
  • “I wasn’t as stressed out and I was more productive.”
  • “I was able to enjoy my family and friends more . . .”

Would the girls recommend a digital detox to other kids? Absolutely!

While some of the girls felt left out of the loop at times, everyone agreed that the experience was worth it.

I realized how addictive social media can be and how unhealthy it can be.” Ella Noblin, Digital Detox participant

Watch the video of the girls – and their moms – to see what they learned!

So what would it be like if your kids and their friends tried this out? They might learn something life-changing!

For even more help, use our Family Guide to Using Mobile Devices to lead a family discussion! Get your free guide at the end of this post.

Related: When Should Kids Have Cell Phones? Savvy Parents Reveal Best Strategies

Your instinct was right: New research says there is a connection between social media use and well-being

Here is one parental acid test for digital consumption: How does social media time affect our kids’ well-being?

Research is giving us answers!

Social media and feeling down – it’s a thing

In a new, ground-breaking study, Dr. Melissa Hunt and her team at University of Pennsylvania have shown a causal link (not just a correlation or association) between loneliness, depression and the use of social media.

This is the first valid, experimental study that has considered three major social media apps – Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat – and tracked the users objectively.

Some of the key findings:

  • All participants who started with varying levels of depression reported feeling better about themselves when limiting social media use.
  • Limiting social media use to 30 minutes per day “may lead to significant improvement in well-being.”

It is ironic, but perhaps not surprising, that reducing social media, which promised to help us connect with others, actually helps people feel less lonely and depressed.” Dr. Melissa G. Hunt et al. No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression

Other take-aways for parents?

  • Social media is here to stay. But you can limit its damage by purposefully monitoring how much time kids spend on social media apps.
  • Find ways to reduce social comparison and instead connect with others in real life

Related: 3 Ways to Mentor Responsible Digital Kids

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digital detox

Tumblr finally addresses sexual exploitation in their app

You may not have noticed, but anyone who wanted to download Tumblr on their new iPhone or iPad the last couple of weeks couldn’t find it in the Apple App Store.

That’s because Apple audited the content in Tumblr and found images of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Apple has a zero-tolerance policy, choosing to pull any app with accessible child abuse images even when it may be hard to find.

Thank you Apple!

As you can imagine, not having the Tumblr app available for iPhone users to download would spell death to the company.

Apple finally got their attention.

Tumblr announced on Dec. 3 that explicit sexual content and nudity would be banned from the app.

Posts that contain adult content will no longer be allowed on Tumblr, and we’ve updated our Community Guidelines to reflect this policy change.

Bottom line: There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content. We will leave it to them and focus our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community.

Tumblr has come under fire in the past for its high volume of pornography. TechCrunch reported that “adult” content is the top category that drives 20.53% of traffic Tumblr’s desktop site.

Alert: We are definitely NOT saying that Tumblr is now safe for your child or teen!

Check out this video to learn more about the app:

We ARE happy to see big, influential tech companies taking action to address the industry-wide problem of explicit and exploitative content.

Another hopeful sign this week is that Starbucks announced that they will block porn from their free Wi-Fi.

It’s encouraging to see that education and public pressure really can motivate change.

Reporting tips

If you see something anywhere online involving child sexual exploitation, please report it to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCME) at their CyberTipline.

digital detox“Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures. . . I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!” – Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

Celine’s new CELINUNUNU fashion line for kids is a No! No! No!

Sadly, the sexualization of young girls in fashion is nothing new. But it seems that when you combine money, celebrity, and media, it can be a toxic mix.

Celine Dion has lent her megastar influence to a questionable kids clothing lineone that has been raising eyebrows across social media.

CELINUNUNU is a partnership between Celine and nununuworld, a super-trendy fashion company based in Israel. Celebrities including Gwen Stefani, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Garner, and others have all clothed their children from this line.

So what’s wrong with the clothing?

When you look at the Instagram feed for this company, you start to see a disturbing pattern of images that feature girls and boys in clothing or situations, combined with symbols and slogans, that put an exploitative spin on childhood. Notice the hand prints on their chests, the creepy skull in the frame, the girl with a paper bag over her head, and the shirt with the word “HO!” Why can’t we allow kids to be kids?
digital detox

Celebrities are major trend influencers. When they endorse these kinds of messages, they also normalize inappropriate marketing using minor kids.

The company’s mission statement claims:

Fashion has the power to shape people’s minds. Inspire your children to be free and find their own individuality through clothes.

We think these images are anything but kids expressing their individuality, and more about kids being used to express some very dark and twisted notions.

Why do we share this?

Cruel is NOT cool

Pornography and exploitation have trickled through and influenced many things in our culture now, even to perceptions of children. Together we can help each other be aware, push back against predatory culture, and be prepared to teach our kids to see the truth behind such toxic marketing.

Get our free Family Guide to Using Mobile Devices

Our list of talking points will help your family discuss how you want to use mobile tech in the best way! Click on the image below to get your copy.

Stacey Dittman, M.A.
Stacey Dittman lives north of Toronto with her husband and two sons. She holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature and a master's degree in Language and Professional Writing.
Stacey has used her writing and research skills in the government, non-profit and small business sectors. She is thrilled to be working with Protect Young Minds to help empower parents with the latest available information and resources. She enjoys hiking and playing tennis with her family and working with junior high kids in her sons' youth group.
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