Today almost everyone, not only teenagers, are connected to social media.
A Pew Research Center study found that 92 percent of U.S. teenagers use social networks at least once a day, with 24 percent reporting that they are online “almost constantly.”
Adults love their social media too. According to PEW Research Center study, 74 percent of adults online use social media with Facebook leading by 71 percent.
What is all this social media doing to our health?
Depending on your personality everyone handles their cyber-stress differently. Don’t kid yourself, there is cyber-stress especially when teens start depending on LIKEs for their self-image (esteem) and adults start comparing their lives to their friends lives (or what they are posting online).
Let’s keep in mind this is social media. There will always be those humble-braggers. Yes, people that believe they need to one-up others digitally or lead others to believe that their life is more than it actually is. It’s frustrating since those photo’s can be deceiving, and it makes you reflect on your own life — wondering where you missed the boat. Chances are you didn’t, they are only a perception through what they want you to believe.
It can be more of a struggle for teens. They aren’t mature enough to understand that it’s only social media and it’s not the end of the world.
The number of LIKEs today won’t determine their future.
Limiting social media use can cause FOMO (fear of missing out), however it is important to find the healthy balance and talking with them about their self-worth outside of the cyber-world.
A new study published earlier this month, Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, found that teens using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more than two hours per day are more likely to report suicidal thoughts, psychological distress and rate their mental health as poor.
This study also found that teenagers using social media for excessive periods were more likely to say their mental health needs were going unmet and called for public health organizations to do more to engage with young people via such platforms.
The study acknowledged that social media can be a way to combat loneliness and depression, as well as increase self-esteem and social support, like I have witnessed with social media therapy. Chances are this is with more mature teens or people with a better understanding of how we need to use social media.
There was a second recent study, How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms, found that people feel depressed after excessive use of Facebook because they tend to make negative social comparisons with friends who crop up in their timelines. Again, you need to remember, things are not always what they seem.
There is nothing wrong with social media, it is all about finding the healthy balance and learning that there is fact and fiction. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s true.
Offline parenting is what helps your child/teenager with their online health and wellness. It’s not about one chat, it’s your daily discussions. Check-in with them about how they are feeling about different posts, or if they are struggling with cyber-stress or anxiety. Keep a pulse on their cyber-health offline.