Neptune Navigate Blog

Tips for online safety, security, and responsible digital citizenship for parents, kids, and families.

Kids Don’t Need More Numbers

November 15, 2020

Snapchat recently announced that it was adding a new feature to its platform.  Users will now be able to show the number of followers they have. Until now, this information was not displayed for all to see.

Follower counts aren’t anything new.  Every social media platform has this feature.  Snapchat seemed to be the one exception. Why does this matter?  Theodore Roosevelt is credited with saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So many of our kids have been robbed of their joy. Followers, friends, retweets, likes, views, and comments are all counted on every social media platform.  The numbers are stealing our kids’ joy, and for too many, this has burdened them with depression and anxiety.  

It’s not an exaggeration.  Every aspect of our kids’ lives, at least every aspect that they post on social media can and will have a number attached to it.  And those numbers fuel the comparison battle that rages in so many kids.  These numbers feed the voice inside so many that tells them they aren’t enough.

What’s a parent to do? Talk about the burden of comparison.  Look at the number of followers your child has on all their social media accounts. That means that you sit down with them regularly and look at who they follow and who follows them.  Are there people who follow your child that you don’t know?  Ask questions about those people.  

Talk to kids about what they think about the numbers. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation.  Every one of our kids will view the numbers differently, and that’s reason enough to have a conversation with them.

The only positive element of this new feature is that it is optional. Snapchat allows users to toggle this feature off and on.