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Why is social media so addictive?

 Colourful overlapping silhouettes of children using phones

Why do people spend so much time on social media? But Why answers kids' questions about social media and screen time and we learn about how to be a good citizen online with Devorah Heitner, author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World and Growing Up In Public: Coming of Age in a Digital World, coming in September.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

  • Social media sites are engineered to keep you engaged. The platforms will keep showing you videos they think you’ll like to keep you from getting off their platform. 
  • Features that allow other users to like, share or comment on your post can also keep you coming back to social media because it’s human nature to want to be liked by others.
  • Families should be having conversations about social media, starting before kids are using these sites. Ask your adults about how they use social media and what they post. And tell your adults if you’d prefer not to have photos of you shared online by adults without your permission. 
  • Don’t reveal personal information online or create accounts on websites without talking to adults first.
  • If you’re having a problem online, talk to an adult. It’s not up to you to solve the problem. If an online conversation doesn’t feel right - just leave. Click out of the game, website or app. And tell an adult about what made you uncomfortable.
  • It’s important to be a good citizen online. Don’t forget that there is always a real person on the other side of your communication. 
  • When you’re online it’s important to go to sources you can trust. Ask your adults for help finding those sites. Then ask yourself questions about what you see online: Where is this video coming from? Does this information have a point of view? Can you find other information like this on another website? Can you find this information somewhere not on the internet? And don’t forget there are books! 

Good Citizen Challenge

Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
Melody is the Contributing Editor for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids and the co-author of two But Why books with Jane Lindholm.

But Why is a project of Vermont Public.

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