In today’s world of technological advances, we are able to make advances and connections our predecessors could hardly dream of. However, with this technology comes a number of concerns, many of which relate to teenagers and their use of social media. With enough time and usage, these aspects of technology that have been such an important part of our lives can cause anxiety and lower self-esteem, especially with the teenage populace.
Teenagers are excellent at finding things to do in their spare time, and most of that is thanks to texting and social media. In exchange, though, many teens are missing out on in-person interactions and losing opportunities to develop socially. Since humans are such social creatures, we rely heavily on social cues, such as eye contact. With this advent of social media, though, some teens are not getting the social exposure needed to communicate properly in society. This effect bleeds into making and fostering friendships, as texting essentially strips away many personal parts of communication, such as physically witnessing the effects their words have on another person.
Without this barrier, cyberbullying also increases. The internet gives people a mask of anonymity. With it, they dub themselves immune from consequence and go one to say harmful, sometimes dangerous things. As a result, teens tend to send messages that they would normally never say to anyone in person.
In the constant barrage of messages and pictures, it can be hard for teens to maintain their confidence. People their age are becoming more proficient with editing programs such as Photoshop in order to make themselves appear flawless to the outside world. Seeing this steady stream of seemingly perfect people on their Facebook and Instagram feeds can severely lower self-esteem and increase anxiety over their appearance. Teens can sometimes treat their peers’ opinions as the law of the land, and under that sort of scrutiny, they yearn to achieve that approval. Being ignored in the form of likes and comments can be demotivating, and teens can lose their sense of self in the mess of it all. Why be themselves when the five different Photoshop pictures are perfect?
What can parents do about this? There are many ways they can help teens maintain their social health. Mainly, they can set a good example for their children on what healthy uses of technology should look like. For example, waiting to check their phones until their children are off to school can communicate to their kids that personal social contact is essential. In addition, it shows that parents are invested in their kids’ lives, something that being buried behind a laptop screen constantly cannot achieve.