This article was published in Church Leaders on July 10, 2019.
Last month, actress and singer Selena Gomez confessed that she is “scared” by what she sees as the exposure of young girls and boys on Instagram and other social media platforms. Speaking at the Cannes Film Festival, she said, “for my generation, specifically, social media has been terrible.” She talked about meeting young girls who have been “devastated dealing with bullying and not being able to have their own voice.” And she’s been open about becoming “depressed” while browsing the popular photo-sharing app.
The 26-year-old pop star, who is an Instagram queen in her own right, has warned young people to be mindful of how often they’re on social media, saying, “It can be great in moments, but I would just be careful and allow yourself some time limits when you should use it and when not.” It seems to be advice she’s taking to heart, as Gomez recently confirmed that she no longer has the Instagram app on her phone and uses someone else’s device to check her account “periodically.”
As the third most-followed person on Instagram with legions of real-life fans, Gomez’s words (and actions) on social media use carry a certain weight. But, at a time when “droves” are leaving Facebook due to privacy concerns and “social media detoxes” are promising higher levels of happiness, the generation coming up behind those of Gomez’s age group appear to be more invested in social media interaction than ever. A Barna survey tracking the attitudes of Gen Z toward social media use (among other things) revealed that the overwhelming majority of young people, ages 13-18, are satisfied with the amount of time they spend on social networks.
When asked about the ways they use social media, 69 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “I am happy with the amount of time I spend on social media.” That percentage generally held true across age breaks between teens 16 and under (71 percent) and teens over 16 (67 percent). It also held true across ethnicity (white, black, hispanic/latino, other), location (inner city, suburb, rural), and region of the country (northeast, south, midwest, west).