March 25, 2013
Are your teens on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? If they are, there’s a good chance that it’s caused them stress or anxiety. For something meant to connect us with others, social media seems to have the exact opposite effect on teens. According to mental health consultant Stefanie Weiss it can even make them feel isolated and lonely .
Social Media and Self-Worth
With many teens accessing social media on a daily basis, it’s a place they are increasingly turning to determine their self-worth. From how many followers they have – to how many people ‘liked’ their picture – it gives them a sense of belonging and acceptance. Weiss says, “I think kids base their self-worth today on how many followers they have, how many likes they’re getting on their pictures or what comments they’re getting from friends or not getting from other people that they wish that they did.”
Do you think this is true? I definitely agree with her.
Social Media and Stress
Another problem is the stress and anxiety caused by social media. This is a result of teens:
- Worrying about how many followers they have
- Posting something and not being able to take it back (they can delete it, but teens love to screenshot things!)
- Trying to go viral
- Worrying about what your parents have seen on your social media accounts
As a mom of two teens, thinking about all of this scares me. Social media for them scares me. Which is why we talk about it on a daily basis around our home.
What Parents Can Do
If you find your kids abusing social media or notice an increase in their stress levels, there are ways to leave the lines of communication open and teach your teens how to use social media responsibly. A few things parents of teens who are active on social media can do are:
- Communicate effectively – It is possible to keep the lines of communication open without being too terribly annoying. I don’t ask my daughter about every single thing she tweets, but I do ask her about a tweet if it worried me or if I thought it was funny. We also talk about some of the updates her friends post and why a particular post might not have been a good idea. You can use social media to initiate discussions about how others can perceive your posts and why they might react a certain way.
- Know where they are – Monitoring your kids’ social media accounts is not as easy as it used to be. With new apps popping up every day, knowing their online hangout spots can be tough. Here are a few weapons in one mom’s online arsenal when it comes to her kids’ social media usage.
- Check their privacy settings – Online safety is a whole other topic, but it’s a crucial one. Help your kids set up their privacy settings on the sites they use and explain to them why it’s so extremely important.
There are many other ways parents can stay in tune with their teens social media usage. It’s as important as ever to know where your kids are spending their time online. From safety issues, to how it makes them feel about themselves, this is a topic worth talking about.
Are your teens online? Do you have set rules? Share what you do in your home when it comes to your teens and social media.