For better or worse, social media is here to stay. Whether scrolling (or is it called trolling?) friends’ profiles, snapping selfies and posting them for your fans, or keeping up with the goings on of acquaintances from days gone by, we are all affected by social media in some way. But let’s consider the ramifications on our teens.
Teens today seem addicted to their phones and other devices. Adults tend to harp on this a lot; I know I am guilty of this. As a teen, I remember spending hours on the phone with my best friend - doing homework together or just talking about our day or the latest gossip from school. But at least we were exchanging ideas and actually conversing when we were on the phone for hours.
Nowadays, teens seem sucked into the abyss that is Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok. We can only expect that this is affecting their self-esteem as they compare their lives to those that they are seeing through the pictures, posts, and videos of others. In the world of likes and hearts, our teens are judging their self-worth by how many likes and comments they get on what they share. This is how they communicate - not through words or conversations, but by hitting the like button. It’s no wonder our teens are growing more anti-social and suffering social anxiety. They have become silent and somewhat reclusive. Gone are the days of talking on the phone with your best friend. Now they post to their stories or text. And, of course, this lack of verbal communication extends into school. Teens seem to be participating less in class discussions. As teachers, we can only encourage our teens to find their voice and share their thoughts and ideas verbally with their classmates.
So, what’s a parent to do? Here are some helpful hints for battling your teen’s addiction to social media:
1) Social media can be ok - in moderation. Set limits with your teen. If they need help monitoring their time, consider setting up screentime limits. Allowing them to be a part of deciding how much time will undoubtedly help them to buy-in.
2) Lead by example. Let them see you finding enjoyment doing things besides being on your device. Pick up the phone and call a friend, read a book, cook, or maybe even write a letter. Model the behaviors you wish to see in your teen.
3) Monitor your teen’s social media accounts. Know who their friends are and discuss the latest goings-on with your teen. Show them you are interested in their life and be sure that their social media presence is appropriate.
4) Communicate with your teen about their use of social media and be sure that they understand that their digital footprint is forever - an inappropriate post can jeopardize their future.
5) Encourage your teen to use social media for good. Maybe they’re a part of a community service project -have them post the good they’re doing too!