Do you believe that social media causes teen depression?
Are the teenagers around you seemingly addicted to their digital devices and today’s cyber platforms?
Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have not always been available to the world, but teenagers across space and time all have at least this one thing in common: a combination of spontaneity and an influx of hormones.
The struggle to cope with the two, when there is little to no supervision or boundaries set to help with navigation, can be detrimental. Keeping this in mind can help in understanding why social media is beneficial to teens in this generation – when used properly.
Social media has become the place where children and young adults go to experiment with who they are, adjust to all of the changes that come with growing up, and learn how to cope in the world.
Parents (and friends, too) of teenagers should feel comfortable discussing how their children/peers can best use social media, especially during summer time.
A great deal of us (children & adults) are liable to talk about very hollow things, while still, somehow over-sharing personal information. Teens are more likely to circulate selfies, rather than giving simple details about what they are really like as people.
Parents, here is a great opportunity to make social media part of the conversation. Offer your children cool things and experiences to photograph and share. Look at what is being published on your child's social media also gives you the chance to compliment their writing style, or photographic eye, while also allowing for time to chat about the not-so-appropriate posts.
Letting your teenager know that his or her social media ought to be just that – social, not personal – should embed the fact that outside validation from strangers on these mediums is not nearly as relevant as the self-confidence that can be created in place of it.
Along with having casual conversation about the focus of content, consider setting boundaries with your teen – letting them make suggestions about what they feel would be best, negotiating the terms, and then making sure that those limitations are not crossed. Some types of boundaries to consider:
Time. Setting aside a block of hours in the day for social media use – or deciding on a cutoff time (like a curfew) – is a start to breaking dependencies. Twitter should not be the first or last thing anyone sees in a day. Make time specifically for social media and stress the importance of doing other things – especially engaging in real life, human interaction and/or fun, creative extracurricular activities.
Space. Just because most teenagers go to schools where the use of digital devices is not allowed (and social sites are blocked on the computers) does not mean that they don’t find ways around that. Creating “no-phone-zones” within your home could curb your child’s incessant presence on social networks. Will there be family time in the living area, where everyone has their phones on “Do Not Disturb”? Will you restrict all devices – iPads and laptops included – from your teen’s bedroom? Convince your children that it is essential to make space for enjoying themselves and the world – learning who they are as people outside of the social network universe.
Emotional. What is your teen sharing with their audience and how is she or he affected by the reactions they receive? Reiterate that while it is great to express your thoughts (and sometimes your feelings) on soical media outlets, the response to what is presented to other people is not always pleasant. Our "Friends" and followers on these networks are typically strangers more than they are people we really know. Ensure that your teen knows not to take the negative things personally - if they are sharing work that they are passionate about, have a chat about the different between constructive criticism and cruelty.