The LIKE Movie
William Benson, Psy.D. | Staff Psychologist
On Monday, August 5th, CBT/DBT Associates hosted a pre-release screening of a new documentary called Like, a film about the positive and negative impacts of social media on our lives. The Like movie had a particular focus on adolescents, interviewing teens and their parents about social media use. As an audience, we were fascinated with the film, which made for an engaging and productive discussion afterwards.
I have several thoughts about the Like movie, but I want to highlight just a few important points. First of all, I think it is important to understand that there are advantages and disadvantages of social media. And that not all applications are the same in terms of their impact. The film argues that apps that focus on real-time communication with other people, particularly people with whom you have a relationship outside of social media, or irl (in real life), as the kids say, are particularly beneficial.
However, social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram can have multiple negative impacts. One potential drawback is a distorted sense of others’ lives that happens from seeing only their best moments through multiple filters. Consequently, a sense that one’s own life and/or appearance is not good enough. Secondly, because these apps make money from advertisers, they are designed to keep your eyes on the app as long as they can. Thus, they lead to the “time suck” of watching video after video on auto-play and the feeling of need or fomo that leads to checking and getting back on the app repeatedly.
Luckily, the film also presented a few ways to mitigate these negative effects for adolescents. Here are my top four:
1. Model appropriate use of screens for your teens.
While you might be doing very different things, such as checking work email or communicating with family, the argument that what your teen is using their phone for less important probably will not fly. The less time you spend in front of screens, the less time they will.
2. Have an open discussion about pros and cons of social media.
Start off by asking your child what they see as the good and bad. Validate their feelings and truly try to understand their point of view. Then explain your own concerns in a concise and nonjudgmental manner. Brainstorm solutions and see if you can come up with some good strategies together to maximize the good and minimize the bad.
3. Focus on what things you want your teen to be doing.
Rather than focusing on what things they shouldn’t be doing, you should focus on what you want him/her to do. Come up with goals around homework completion and studying, time outside, time contributing to the household, and other things that are important for your family.
4. Reconfigure your phone to help you stay more productive.
The film provided some simple hacks you can use on your phone, like turning off notifications for everything except direct communication apps, such as messenger and texts. You can also put only tools, such as Maps, Calendar, Notes, and ride-sharing apps on your home screen and search to find the app you want when you want to go on social media. This makes you more in control, rather than going on an app out of habit.
Overall, it was a very successful event, and we hope to have more film screenings soon! To learn more about Like and tips for using social media mindfully and responsibly, you can go to https://www.thelikemovie.com/.