It’s no secret that teens are influenced by social media every single day. While social media has many positive effects and uses, it also has some negative ones. It can be difficult to recognize how your teen is affected by social media, so it’s important to educate yourself on how to be a good support system for your child.
First off, instead of taking social media away from your teen if problems develop, help them create a positive and safe social environment to interact with. Express the importance of separating social media from real life and help them learn how to handle negative emotions caused by social media. And most importantly, listen to how your child is affected by social media. It could be in one of these three ways.
It’s not uncommon for users on social media to rely on editing tools and filters to achieve the exact look they want or to match their feed’s aesthetic. Carefully edited photos in your child’s feed can without a doubt influence the way your teen feels about their body. Edited images can create an idealized version of beauty and have them striving for “perfection.” In the end, what your child sees on social media may lead to them developing a lack of confidence, or worse. Therefore, it is important to help your teen create a safe space on their social media feeds.
For example, encourage your teen to follow positive and truly influential people, those that post unfiltered and unedited photos, and showcase the good and bad events in their lives. Have your teen follow users who struggle with similar issues as they do. If your teen suffers from anxiety or acne, suggest they follow an influencer on social media who sheds light on these difficult topics.
Talk to your teen about the next steps they could take to address the struggles they might be encountering. For example, if they struggle with anxiety you could find a therapist or if skin health is a problem, educate your teen about acne so they understand how common it might be. Stress the importance of showing the real you on these platforms. Who knows, they might even encourage one of their followers to get some help or just reassure someone that there are other people who struggle with the same things and that they are not alone.
Popularity & Pressure
Unfortunately, social media can also be viewed by teens as a popularity contest. It is not uncommon for teens to analyze their like count or the number of followers they have. Your child may think that the more followers they have, the more people like them. The same goes for the number of likes a photo gets.
This can turn into a never-ending cycle of comparison. Your teen may not realize that what people on social media are showing are only highlights of their lives. They’re probably not showing all the other things going on. Your teen may begin to think that if they showcase only fun or trendy things online, they will gain popularity through followers and likes. Eventually, your teen may feel pressure when it comes to posting online and will begin thinking things like: Will this post get enough likes? Will I gain any followers? Is what I’m posting trendy or cool enough?
The best way to solve this problem is to stress that numbers on social media mean nothing when it comes to real life. What matters is how many good, true, trustworthy friendships one has. Another helpful tip is to encourage your teen to turn off the like count settings on some social media apps. This eliminates showing the number of people who have liked their photos.
If your teen is feeling pressured when it comes to posting online or viewing social media, encourage them to take a step back. Taking a break from social media is a great way to do some self-care and help build your teen’s self-esteem back up. Whether your teen chooses to use an app to limit social media to a couple of hours a day or remove all social media from their phone for a week, the cleanse will certainly help.
It’s easy for some users on social media to participate in cyberbullying because of the anonymity. Social media makes it easier for bullies to hide behind the screen while saying hurtful things to others online. This form of bullying can happen through personal attacks, by spreading rumors, excluding others, or sharing their private information without permission. Cyberbullying is an easy way to put others down and if your teen is a target of cyberbullying they can be experiencing a lot of different emotions. Their confidence can be affected, or they may feel depressed or anxious.
If your child is experiencing cyberbullying, finding a therapist or counselor to talk with them about what they are going through and the emotions they are feeling could be a good way to help your teen cope. Parents can also help their child develop coping strategies. Be sure to communicate with your child about how they are feeling. Hopefully, by taking actions to combat any bullying your child may be experiencing, you can help them come out of this difficult experience stronger and more resilient.
In the end, social media can be a blessing and a curse. You can help your teen feel their best by contributing to a positive social media environment as well as educating yourself about the negative effects of social media. Recognizing your child’s feelings and helping them resolve issues on social media may be the help they need to have a positive social media experience.