Social Media and Self Esteem in Tweens and Teens

We can all agree that most tweens and teens love social media whether it’s Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or You Tube with many of them becoming “overnight sensations’ because of them.
However, what many of them may not seem to understand, especially in the beginning is just how much of an impact it may have on their self-esteem.

With social networking, tweens and teens are constantly checking their social media feeds worried about how many “likes” they can get, how many followers they gain and how many retweets they have.  According to the Dove Self-Esteem Project, “Social media creates an environment where disordered thoughts and behaviors really thrive,” Without a lot of “likes,” followers, or retweets, teens may see themselves as “not good enough.”
They are constantly exposed to seeing this “perfect image” of who they should be on social media. Some feel if they can’t become that “perfect image,” then they’re not good enough for anyone or themselves.  The constant exposure to “perfection” from social media affects a teen’s self-identity, self-esteem and may even cause depression. Social media can affect a teen’s self-esteem and this can create depression as they struggle to be socially accepted.

This depression can lead to teens having severe insecurities and social networking can even lead to addiction, which can also affect a teenager’s health. It can cause anxiety, sleeping problems and they may not being able to function in the real world.  However, social media wasn’t meant or intended to ruining lives, even Mark Zuckerberg has admitted this so hopefully there will be some positive changes coming to Facebook soon.
The social networking world does have some positive aspects, there are teens that are famous for trying to create a positive self-image and explain to their generation that perfection doesn’t matter.  A lot of these famous teens always say to“be yourself.”Many of them inspire others to be themselves and have helped them and their peers who love them to embrace being themselves.

There is a high level of importance of being a positive role model like ones we may have had when theCosby Show, Family Tiesand other fictional family sitcoms were on the air.  Social media was initially created to connect us with family and friends, to quickly catch up on what’s happening throughout the world.  It helped to keep us informed of major news and important events in our neighborhoods and around the world; to inspire us to make a change, and to explore the network by seeing other people’s interests, lifestyles and more.
Similar toblogging, it became the new white picket fence, where we went to share, congratulate, commiserate and check in with our family and friends. So the problem isn’t social media, it is the kind of people and accounts that tweens and teens follow on social media, which can say a lot about who they are, or who they want to be. There can be negative effects but we must encourage our teens to understand that we are born into society, not “accepted” into one.  All in all, social media has both positive and negative affects to tween’s and teen’s self-esteem and health and it is up to our future generations to not let it take over.
Think about it, before social media took over the way we connect with one another, there was radio, books, magazines, television and movies and low self esteem was also a concern when young kids didn’t see anyone who looked like themselves.  Which is why I love this picture ofPresident Obamaleaning over a young boy who just wanted to feel his hair to see if it felt like it own – that is a very powerful image.

Many experts have agreed that the best thing parents can do to minimize the risks associated with overuse of technology by their teens and tweens is to cut back on their own.   It’s up to parents to set a good example in everything and now more than ever especially when it comes to healthy computer usage.  Kids should be used to seeing our faces, not our heads bent over a screen.   I have actually seen parents texting and driving with the kids in the back seat…some even strapped into their car seats.Did you read about the Day Care Center in Houston that posted a sign that read in part:
“We have heard a child say ‘Mommy, mommy, mommy…’ and the parent is paying more attention to their phone than their own child. It is appalling. Get off your phone!!”

Parents can create a technology-free zone in the house or technology-free hours when no one uses the phone, including mom and dad. Don’t walk in the door after work in the middle of a conversation or walk in the door say ‘hi’ quickly, and then just check your email.  Try to get up a half hour earlier in the morning or stay up after the kids are in bed to check your email, give them your full attention.
No one should be using phones in the car commuting back and forth to school because that’s an important time to talk.  Especially when the kids are young because trust me, time flies.  As soon as you get used to buckling them into a car seat – they are buckling themselves into their owncar’sseats!

Not only does limiting the amount of time you spend plugged into computers, laptops and tablets provide a healthy environment for you and the family it also strengthens the parent-child bond and makes kids feel more secure. Kids need to know that you are available to help them with their problems, talk about their day, or give them a reality check, even when they don’t seem like it.
I still remember sitting at the foot of our sons bed when they were younger or reading a book or watching a movie together created such a wonderful bond for us that even now, in their 20’s, they are comfortable with me sitting at the foot of their bed talking about school or work or hubby laying down watching a game with them.

When offline you can help your kids build healthy self-esteem by getting them involved in something that they’re interested in. It could be sports or music or volunteering, anything that sparks an interest and gives them confidence. When kids learn to feel good about what they can do instead of how they look and what they own, they’re happier and better prepared for success in real life.
What is your opinion on Social Media and Self Esteem in our Tweens and Teens?

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