Social Media and Self-Esteem in Teens
Posted: February 14, 2018
Social Media outlets such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram exert a significant impact on the mental and emotional wellbeing of Teens, Tweens and many Young Adults. In some cases this impact is positive, giving them an outlet for positive experiences and growth. Unfortunately this is not the most common effect seen, however. We need a way to reverse the mental and emotional damage being done through social media.
"Recent research has shown that using social networking sites, namely Facebook, can increase people’s stress levels, produce and negatively affect a person’s sense of self." - PsychCentral
Again, I am not saying that all social media is harmful, or that we should somehow ban all Tweens and Teens from using social media to communicate. Instead, we need to find ways to combat the potential for damage and set our children up for successful navigation of this new form of communication. I believe that begins with helping all users of social media have a stronger sense of self-esteem.
Often the damage being done to heavy users of social media comes in the form of "shaming" and "envy". Interactions on the various social media outlets can often become heated, participants losing their "cool" and typing things to, and about, other users that they would not say if they were face-to-face or in public places. Just read any of the comments in a political or "community story" post. Posters often devolve to name-calling and use of offensive language that would likely not come from them if they were anywhere but safely behind their keyboard. The other common type of post that causes damage to the more impressionable and less self-confident in the social media community are the "brag" posts.
How social media users create and monitor their online personas may hint at their feelings of self-esteem and self-determination, according to an international team of researchers. - Medical News Today
When we see the "look at my life - isn't it AWESOME!" posts it can make us feel badly about our lives, even when there is no reason to do so. While some of these posts are quite real, others are simply a case of "puuting up a false front" and attempting to look good for "the group". Unfortunately these types of posts, when read by a person with lower self-esteem, can drive feelings of depression and inadequacy.
In both cases, one way to keep these types of posts from doing psychological damage is to ensure that the reader's self-esteem is built upon gratitude. When we are grateful for what we have, what we know and what we are able to do, posts that brag about what others have or attempt to tear us down and belittle us have little effect. As your Tween and Teen enter into the Social Media World, make sure they have a solid base of gratitude in their lives. Teach them to value themselves first, to be grateful for all the things that make them who they are and help them understand that a person on a keyboard else where in the world cannot take those things away.
Let Gratitude be the Bedrock on which your child's Self-Esteem is built and they will be able to handle the storms in their Social Media World!