Parents Blaming Social Media: Why?

Here’s why parents blame everything on social media:

There are too many reasons to list them all, but in general, parents tend to blame things on social media because there is a large body of evidence that suggests social media can and does harm kids.

Parents also might lash out in fear or misunderstanding.

Put it together, and social media makes a tempting scapegoat.

So if you want to learn all about why parents hold social media responsible for a lot of problems, then this article is for you.

Let’s get right into it!

Parents Blaming Social Media: Why? (Everything to Know)

Do Parents Really Blame Everything on Social Media? (4 Things)

When you ask “Why do parents blame everything on social media,” it’s kind of a loaded question.

It’s making some pretty big assumptions, and they aren’t all fair. 

I get it.

It’s really just an expression of a sentiment.

Sometimes, parents blame things on social media when it doesn’t really make sense, and that can be frustrating.

But, I want to seriously talk about this idea today, and there’s a lot I want to explore with you.

In order to do that, the only reasonable starting place is to consider whether or not parents are really blaming things on social media.

If we take a step back and talk about this in general terms, then there’s an easy answer.

Yes. Parents do blame things on social media.

It would be unfair to say that they blame everything on social media.

And, there are probably some parents who don’t ever blame social media.

Overall, there are plenty of examples of parents blaming social media for all kinds of things, so that’s our starting point.

In order to really understand why this happens, we’ll have to go through more than a few concepts, and some of them are pretty complicated.

I think a good next step would be to explore what kinds of things parents tend to blame on social media.

Maybe your parents think that the car broke down last week because of social media, but that’s not a common sentiment.

Instead, I can show you four categories where this kind of blame is a lot more common.

Let’s take a look.

#1 Social Disorders

Kids these days face a lot.

There are more diagnosable social disorders than ever before.

You can see various levels of social anxiety and similar issues that just weren’t widely discussed in the past.

For any parent seeing their child suffer due to these issues, there’s going to be a desire to find a cause, and it’s easy to land on social media.

I’ll talk about some of the science and reporting built around these ideas later, but for now, we can suffice it to say that plenty of parents are willing to point the blame at social media when a kid is facing social disorders.

#2 Mental Health Issues

Related to social disorders are any number of mental health issues.

Depression and anxiety are both on the rise.

Many kids struggle with body positivity, various stress disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and plenty of other issues.

Really, the list is too long to name them all here.

As we’ve seen these issues on the rise, it seems to correlate with the widespread adoption of social media.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that social media is really to blame for any of these problems, but there are plenty of parents in the world who are willing to make that logical leap.

#3 Behavioral Problems

Outside of diagnosable issues, you have parents who are frustrated with general behavior when it comes to their kids.

There’s something in the parent-child relationship that isn’t quite right, and it leads to friction and often outright strife.

Finding a true root cause for behavioral problems is never easy, but for frustrated parents, it’s a simple enough idea to make a bogeyman out of social media.

After all, social media does have real abilities to influence all of us, so when a parent sees a sudden and dramatic change in their child’s behavior, they’re going to be tempted to blame the social media.

#4 Declining Performance in School

And, of course, there’s school.

Every parent wants to see their kids succeed (at least, generally speaking).

Success at school is a clear way to set a child up for many other facets of success later in life.

So, parents push for their kids to get good grades, thrive in extracurricular activities, and do well in school in a general sense.

So, when a child is struggling with school, parents will often be quick to look for someone or something to blame.

Often enough, that falls on social media.

Why Do Parents Blame Social Media? (4 Reasons)

Hopefully, everything above does a good enough job establishing that there are plenty of cases where parents are ready to blame a problem on social media.

If we’re all on the same page as far as that goes, the next step is to explore why.

Is social media just a convenient scapegoat, or is there more to this?

Is social media really at fault?

The truth, as always, is complicated.

If you’re looking for a short answer, I can say that social media activity can definitely contribute to any and all of the problems listed above.

Despite that, it’s never sufficient to simply blame social media and move on.

These issues are complicated, and there are usually multiple factors at play.

So, let’s explore what really drives parents to put all of the blame on social media when there are probably other factors that merit just as much attention.

#1 Research

Real, verifiable scientific research is probably the very biggest reason why parents are willing to blame everything on social media.

The concept has barely been around for more than a decade, so in the grand scheme of things, social media is still relatively young.

But, we’ve seen the world change rapidly since social media blew up, and there have been many researchers looking into what that means for everyone.

Here’s the hard truth. 

There are a lot of studies that show how social media use can and does contribute to a range of mental challenges.

Social disorders, mental health issues, behavioral problems, and changes in scholastic success can all be linked to social media.

As I said above, that doesn’t mean that social media is the sole cause.

In fact, it’s safe to say that social media is never the only cause of trouble.

On top of that, plenty of people use social media with no negative outcomes at all.

But, when there are issues, social media often contributes, and there is so much evidence out there that most parents are at least partially aware of this issue.

If the science says that social media can be a problem, why wouldn’t parents blame things on it?

#2 News 

Then again, how do parents know about all of this research?

Is every parent in the world secretly a research paper junky?

Do they spend countless hours in the dead of the night studying health journals to see how social media is hurting their kids?

That’s not usually the case.

Instead, a lot of parents come across the concept of social media harm through news segments and headlines.

We all get exposed to the news at least a little bit every now and then, and plenty of parents regularly consume headline-driven news.

News outlets have covered the problems with social media extensively.

In extreme cases, the news outlets are the ones turning social media into the bogeyman.

Considering all of that, it’s not surprising to see that some parents agree with the news they consume.

When you pair that with the fact that social media really is bad in some cases, it’s actually reasonable.

Now, parents still shouldn’t blame everything on social media, but it’s important to understand that this situation is a mix of sound reasoning and overblown reactions.

#3 Fear

So far, we’ve been going over the justifiable reasons why parents might blame things on social media.

But, it’s not always justifiable.

In plenty of cases, the blame on social media is simply rooted in fear.

Parents might not have a strong grasp of how their kids are interacting with social media or why.

I can tell you that there are TikTok trends that go right over my head, and plenty of parents feel the same way from time to time.

When a parent is concerned for the well-being of their kids, and they don’t really understand the kids’ relationships with social media, that fear can lead to unwarranted blame.

They might think that kids are getting bad ideas from social media platforms.

They might think that the platforms exert too much influence over their kids.

They might think all kinds of things.

The point is that parents are often afraid for their children, and sometimes that fear leads to wrong conclusions.

#4 Misunderstanding

While fear can be a strong motivator, it’s not the only reason why parents will incorrectly blame social media for apparent problems.

In a lot of situations, everything is too complicated to be reduced to some form of “social media bad.”

Human beings are complicated, and when we struggle with things, it’s not always clear why we’re struggling or how to solve the problem.

Parents might be willing to take a reductive attitude and blame social media so that they can feel like at least something is controllable.

Essentially, they’re misunderstanding a complicated situation, and the conclusions they draw are missing nuance.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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