Screen-time battles are a constant for parents. It starts when their kids are toddlers — “More CoCoMelon!” — and continues well into the teenage years — “Just 10 more minutes of TikTok!” Well, Jennifer Garner may have just found a loophole. It’s working for her family, and now we are running home to test out the strategy with our own social media-loving teens.
The mom of three — Violet, 17, Seraphina, 13, and Samuel, 11 who she shares with ex-husband Ben Affleck — appeared on TODAY this morning and told Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb that research is what keeps her teens away from Reels.
“I just said to my kids, ‘Show me the articles that prove that social media is good for teenagers, and then we’ll have the conversation,’” Garner said. “Find scientific evidence that matches what I have that says that it’s not good for teenagers, then we’ll chat.”
And boy, there’s a whole lot of evidence to back Garner up. This comprehensive paper shows that while social media was a source of connection during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and though it can be a great place to learn, be creative, and engage in activism, it can also have detrimental effects. Among a laundry list of things, it can be a source of misinformation, anxiety, “FOMO,” and cause bad sleep habits and poor body image.
That last one is especially relevant. The American Psychological Association found that decreased social media usage improves teens’ body image. Even internal research from Meta showed that social media usage negatively impacted how teens felt about their bodies.
Garner’s daughter Violet must not have liked what she learned, because she has taken a step away from social media platforms and supposedly appreciated that space.
“My eldest is grateful,” Garner said. “It’s a long haul. I have a couple more to go, so just knock on wood. We’ll see if I really hang in there.”
In March, Utah became the first state to require parental consent for minors to use social media after Gov. Spencer Cox signed H.B. 311 and S.B. 152. The laws are set to go into effect next year and would also include a “curfew” whereby minors wouldn’t be able to access their accounts between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. (because remember what we said about sleep patterns?) without parental permission. Social media companies will also be required to verify the age of any Utah resident who uses their site and find ways to comply with the parts of the law that prohibit promoting ads to minors.
Before you go, check out this list of Hollywood’s strictest parents.
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