Social Media can certainly take over one’s life if you let it, adults included. The endless notifications, constant checking for updates, and the pressures of staying connected. It’s enough to drive you crazy. Now, imagine being a child and dealing with those same stressors. Recent studies show a significant increase in depression and suicidal thoughts for teens, especially those who spend multiple hours a day using their phones or checking social media. However, social media can’t take all the blame.
Doctors agree that building up your child’s self-esteem can help to better prepare them to deal with the traps of social media. One of the best ways to build self-esteem in a child is to find something they like to do and show an interest in, such as sports, the arts, coding camps, or music. Kids feel good when they are good at something and it’s not just about fitting in or looking a certain way. It builds their confidence and allows them to interact with other kids face-to-face.
Many teens go through feelings of confusion, isolation, and even depression. Social media may not be the root of these emotions, it could be that those feelings cause one to use social media even more — to fit in, to connect with peers, to get support. Researchers note that a child’s teen years are stressful as it is — the academic pressures, peer pressures, peer relationships, and wanting to fit in — then, you add in the world of social media and it makes it all to another level.
A survey among young people ages 14-24, has discovered that this age group does feel that social media increases their feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image, and loneliness. It’s important for parents to identify the stressors taking place in their child’s life, help problem-solve with their teen and validate how difficult these situations can be for anyone. Let your child know they are not alone, and you are listening.
Learning how to make friends and navigate relationships is a major part of growing up. However, the increased use of texting and chatting online to have conversations is changing the way kids and event adults engage with one another. Kids are known to gang up on each other, but through social media, the opportunity for it is even greater.
Here are a few things you can do to navigate the tricky world of social media with your teens:
- Work with your teen to set social media expectations and set boundaries.
- Make time each day to talk to your child and allow them to open up to you.
- Set screen-free times as a family and connect with each other.
- Teach your children the importance of face-to-face conversations.
- Be good role models in your own use of digital devices and set the example.
- Put your devices away completely when having any serious discussion with your teen.
- Have shared digital times where you participate with your children online.
- Get your child involved in something they like (sports, arts, volunteering, etc.)
Adolescence can be complicated — this was true before the invention of social media. You want to create a safe place for your child and let them know that they can always come to you no matter what. The doctors at Children’s Medical Center are happy to help guide you and assist in creating a social media plan that works best for you and your family. If you have any concerns regarding depression or anxiety in your teen, we are here to help.
Keep our number nearby and call us if you have any concerns.
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