Most of us realize that social media is here to stay, for some time to come at least. While the official, scientific verdict may still be out on just how safe social media sites are, there is so much speculation on the pros and cons!
Some say that being in online communities can increase social interaction with friends and family, and people have lots of access to educational information on all ranges of topics. Some say that such interaction can facilitate social and political changes and that social media serves as one of the fastest ways to disseminate useful information.
On the other hand, many say that social media sites prevent the important face-to-face communication, and that much time is wasted on useless activities. Also, some say this has the power to alter one’s brain and change behavior, and of course kids are more exposed to pedophiles, burglars, other predators, and that social media sites can spread incorrect and possibly dangerous information.
While this may apply to just about anyone (and assuming it is correct), what about other higher risks, especially for our teens? They are in that in-between stage, no longer young children but they don’t yet have the full capacity that adults have, to reason and be careful. After all, they’re at the beginning of their lives, and hindsight has not yet developed to a great degree!
One study found that teens use social media every day. This means they are at greater risk for depression, aggression, and being socially isolated. A significant number of teens also develop addictive behaviors associated with social media use, especially when social media constitutes most of their social life. They don’t have much contact with friends and family in person. These individuals may experience social anxiety, more than those with more in-person social ties.
Given their less than ideal state of mind, such teens may be more vulnerable to predators (think
sexual predators), and to cyberbullying. This also puts their developmental growth at risk – in other words, they may not be developing as well as they could be emotionally.
Teens’ self-esteem can take a major hit! Teens tend to compare themselves to others and end up not feeling like they’re good enough. There is also scientific information linking excessive social media use to the possible development of ADHD!
Teens may divulge very private information, and this could have both immediate consequences as well as long-term issues. (Think ahead to applying to colleges and to applying for jobs in the future.)
You see this pattern of potentially very serious problems developing that are linked to social media use. It has even been scientifically linked to post-traumatic stress, something that can take a very long time to neutralize and conquer.
So how do we help teens to develop safe habits and more resiliency? You, the parent, can play a large role in ensuring that your teen develops good habits of social media use, ensuring a more positive experience, and keeping them safe and happy. Would you like to learn some tips on how to do this? We have many of the answers!
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
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