“I blame social media”
How many times do we say this about teenagers attitude, behaviour and mood? Like it or loath it, social media is here and it plays a huge part in our teens world. But how does social media impact your teenagers self-esteem? The bottom-line is…
Teenagers place a huge value in the feedback they receive from their peers. Always have, always will. FACT.
FOBO is the new FOMO
Likes, comments, thumbs up and followers can make or break a teenager’s mood and self-esteem. Fear of being ‘offline’ (FOBO) is now becoming a contributor to increased anxiety within teenagers with the fear of being left out, excluded and disconnected to friends. As parents we may feel the solution is easy – remove their phones, right? But should we…?
Why is social media so important to teenagers?
• Staying connected. Young people ‘hang out’ on social media. Sending snapchats back and forth whilst watching TV, using WhatsApp to share jokes and gifs and posting images on Instagram. It is a social bonding tool. As human beings our need to build connections and bond with others is a strong natural instinct, only now they don’t even need to leave home!
• Self-expression. Young people use social media to express who they are. Fashion, art, music is used to express themselves. Social media is another platform to show the world what you care about.
• Social Validation. Getting a ‘like’ on Instagram from someone cool is the same as getting a high five in the school corridor. An invitation to a private Facebook group is like being told you can sit with the people you’re keen to hang out with at lunchtime. Therefore, FOBO can cause teenagers immense anxiety.
Encourage positive online experiences
Unsurprisingly, social media impact on self-esteem have a strong relationship. This means missing out on an invitation to an event or missing a snapchat story from someone you admire can be upsetting and negatively impact your teenager’s self-esteem. As a parent there are lots of things you can do to help your teenager understand that a social media follower count, likes and comments are not a measure of their actual worth.
• Self-worth is not measured by numbers. The amount of ‘friends’, likes or followers is not an indicator of who they are. Instead get them to think about the positive relationships they have.
• Discuss that social media is not a competition. Just because someone has likes on their post does not mean their contribution is better or more interesting
• Show them how to block and unfollow. Simple but essential. If there is someone causing upset, teach your teenager how empowering unfollowing can be. Taking control over an upsetting situation can build confidence and show others that they will not be treated that way.
• Encourage your teen to not respond immediately. Young people feel they should be available 24 hours a day. This can lead to anxiety and worry of what others may think if they don’t reply. Encourage them to continue the task they are doing before responding. Finish making a drink, finish watching their YouTube clip, wait until the adverts – whatever it is, encourage them to take some space before replying. Oh, and turn off notifications!
What to do if you are worried?
• Encourage face to face interactions. Nurture meaningful friendships. Give your teenager space to explore real friendships. Don’t limit this to peers; include family, your friends and others who will have a positive impact on your teen.
• Suggest positive role models. Strong, confident, intelligent people that your teen can be inspired by. Do they have an interest in a career? hobby? Encourage them to find people who are doing what they would like to be doing.
• Get them to talk to someone. Counsellors, specialised in working with young people, can support your teen to find their own identity, encouraging them to be the person they want to be.
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