This chapter, from Scott Swartzwelder and Aaron White’s book What Are They Thinking?!, begins by recognizing that digital social media, and its associated demands on adolescent cognitive capacities, is changing the way adolescents communicate, develop and learn. Such effects are pronounced among teens who undergo both positive and negative brain changes as they develop into adulthood in the context of a rapid influx of digital information and connection to online peers. Texting, gaming, social networking and pornography are among the activities under examination. The chapter provides a handy inventory of the key cognitive impacts of our altered digital information landscape, their effects on the teen brain, and resulting behavioral implications. It is useful to parents of adolescents, their mental healthcare providers, treatment specialists and researchers in the field.
Pressures of a Teen Student
Many teen students on social media follow the selective exposure theory, where they only post content that reflects a positive view into their personal lives, while leaving out most of the negative facets that all teens face. If a student is going through a rough patch and sees all of their friends having fun on social media, it’s easy to feel isolated and disconnected. In addition, the peer pressure teens feel around each other can become inescapable once it enters the digital world. It’s vital for our students to create meaningful social connections within the local recovery community so they can overcome the temptations and pressure of life on campus. Daily attendance of 12-step meetings (many of which are “Young People’s Meetings” and/or heavily attended by local recovering students) ensures that our students are around peers that are facing the same struggles so that they can help each other sustain recovery on campus.