What Affect is Tumblr Having on Our Kids?
Tumblr, the once popular microblogging and social networking site, has now become a breeding ground for teenage depression, anxiety, and even suicide.
With its easy-to-use dashboard and plethora of users, it's no wonder why kids are flocking to the site. But what effect is Tumblr having on our kids? And should we be worried?
1. What is Tumblr and why are kids using it?
Tumblr is a blogging and social networking website, which allows users to post multimedia content to a short-form blog.
The posts can be made from either a web browser, or downloaded from a phone or tablet. Tumblr allows anyone aged 13+ with an email address to sign up for the site.
There has been a growing trend in kids using Tumblr as their primary social media platform, instead of Facebook or Instagram.
This could be because it's less personal than other platforms such as Facebook, and the content lies solely on the user's profile page rather than across their entire friend group.
2. How does Tumblr affect our kids?
Since its launch in 2007, hundreds of thousands of teens have flocked to Tumblr and fallen in love with the easy-to-use interface and free mobile app.
Tumblr is a cool, hip social networking site where kids can express themselves through many different avenues, whether it's through cosplay, fan art or memes.
Tumblr provides a platform for teens to feel as though they are being heard. In today's hookup culture, social media allows every person to be validated by others who like their posts (known as 'likes'), content and comments.
This constant stream of praise gives teenagers the idea that someone must like them if they receive all this validation online; therefore Tumblr can lead to feelings of depression when teens don't get the likes they believe they deserve - leading to the development of self-confidence issues.
3. Why should we be worried?
With all the different avenues on Tumblr, it's no surprise that people of all ages are flocking to the site.
This means that kids as young as 13 can sign up for an account with little opposition from their parents.
Kids who already have a history of mental health problems or bullying could be more susceptible to developing depression and anxiety due to being on Tumblr if they spend prolonged periods of time using it.
4. How do we stop our kids from using social media too much?
Talk about social media with your children - know what sites they use and how often they access them each day/week/month.
If you notice your child becoming withdrawn or agitated, constantly checking their phone for new posts may be the reason behind it.
5. Can we prevent our kids from using Tumblr?
Unfortunately, there is no real way of stopping our kids from using social media sites like Tumblr; the best thing that we can do as parents is to educate ourselves on these popular social networking sites, and understand what affect they are having on our children.
Teens with mental health problems such as anxiety disorders, depression and self-esteem issues can feel isolated when in reality they have a strong support network in their friends and school teachers - who they should trust more than anonymous commenters online.
By encouraging them to talk about how they're feeling with family members and their school mental health worker, you'll be giving your child the chance to recognise that there is support out there for them.
6. What are the possible negative impacts on our kids?
While it is true that social media can have positive effects on teens, there are some inherent dangers in using these sites too much which every parent should be aware of.
According to Dr Richard Graham, clinical lead at the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust , "Your children will not get 'attention deficit disorder' from Facebook or Twitter because they will find these sites exciting and interesting.
However if they spend hours on YouTube or Tumblr this will affect their ability to function well at school."
Emotionally, Tumblr can cause kids to feel worthless when they don't get enough likes for an image or post.
This can lead to depression and self-esteem issues because it is impossible for every person who posts something on the internet to receive thousands of 'likes'.
Socially, teens could end up missing out on spending time with their friends if they are constantly online seeking validation from other strangers.
Tumblr doesn't only affect our children's mental health but also has negative effects on their physical wellbeing too.
Dr Richard Graham explains that "Bingeing on social media sites means your child's brain will have the same reaction it does when someone binges on drugs or alcohol - so there is a danger of addiction."
7. Can Tumblr be used positively?
At the end of the day, social media sites are only a tool which can be used for both positive and negative purposes.
Learning how to use Tumblr responsibly will not only avoid problems for our children but it will also help them enjoy the wide range of opportunities that virtual communication provides.
8. How should we talk to our kids about using Tumblr?
As with any new subject, it's important to view these sites as just another form of communication rather than something scary or dangerous.
Be honest with your child about why you are worried about their online activity - remind them that nobody is making them communicate with strangers so they should think twice before sending personal information or images to someone they do not know in real life.
Make sure they understand that these websites are not private spaces, and anything sad or worrying which they write on blogs or post online could be seen by their peers.
Anxiety UK suggests talking to your kids about using Tumblr as you would with any form of social media:
- making it clear that some sites (and some content) is age-restricted
- explaining that what's acceptable at home may not be appropriate for younger children; asking them to respect the privacy of others
- encouraging them to talk about how they feel more generally, whether online or offline.
As Dr Richard Graham explains "If you teach your children moderation there will always be a time and place for 'being on line'."
Sites like Tumblr are often cited as being especially harmful to young people’s mental health due to their highly visual and easily shareable content.
Many experts believe that the constant exposure to perfect lives portrayed on social media can lead to a condition called “perfectionism” in children and adolescents.
This phenomenon is characterised by an excessive desire for perfection and a fear of failure, both of which can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
So, what can we do about it? Experts agree that parents need to talk openly with their kids about the dangers of social media and help them develop healthy online habits.
It can be discouraging to think of these sites as just another way for kids to socialise, but the knowledge that they should use this technology responsibly is empowering and should help kids navigate through the digital world safely.