Social Media and the Teenager
As a teenager, there are many pressures to deal with. The social and academic pressures of school life, perhaps the stress of leaving one school for another, fitting in, being accepted and acceptable, studying, and keeping the family happy with your progress, are all potentially stressful considerations.
Then, of course, there can be tensions at home, family concerns, sibling issues, and the personal problems that often accompany adolescence; feeling different, unsure of oneself, comparing oneself to others, and fear of missing out.
Social media is a natural part of many people’s lives with statistics regularly reported on its use. Analysts say we check our mobile phones every 12 minutes and spend an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes every day on the Internet, mostly on sites owned by Google and Facebook.
While there is value in being connected to the larger outside world, there are also troubling aspects of the Internet and especially around social media that cause concern regarding its influence on teens.
Social media can be a force for good or for bad. Certainly, chat rooms and forums can be a great place for someone who is feeling lonely and friendless, with no one to talk to about how they feel. Finding comfort, and answers to questions from people experiencing similar problems can keep a teen from feeling alienated, isolated, and alone.
It can also help us access unexpected audiences, and reach people we would never have been able to introduce ourselves to, and consequently, their friends. We have the potential with social media to speak to a large audience, a community of like-minded people.
But there are other aspects of social networks that are not so rosy. A certain degree of caution is necessary. Living in a virtual world where we constantly check our phones can convince us that online is the real world, where the things we see and are told there are the truth.
That’s why it’s important;
– Choose who to follow carefully and recognize what their agenda might be. Be alert to the dangers of being groomed by someone who is not who or what they say they are, encouraging you to do things you are not comfortable with. Or maybe they aim to become influencers, (Social Media and the Teenager) who are allied with specific products, gradually introduce and recommend certain products or services, court new followers, and essentially execute sales pitches. Take a step back and see what is really going on.
– Remember that it is your call, you can stop following if you want. If something no longer suits you or you’re not happy with what you see on a regular basis, you can choose to go offline and stop it. And if posts appear that you don’t like, that distress you, negatively affect you or make you uneasy, trust your gut and block them. It’s your device, your media stream; Close the door and don’t let them in.
– Set a limit for your time online and use that time more efficiently. Yes, you can see your online family as a real and key element of your life, relationships that are genuine and supportive. It’s the only place where you can be yourself and you need to keep that in your life, but real person-to-person relationships are also important. With more and more people working, shopping, and managing their lives online, it may provide fewer and fewer reasons to leave home. But relationships, learning to interact with others, developing social skills, and understanding oneself better, all require stepping away from devices and committing to face-to-face communication.
– Meet others in person and experience the spontaneity and diversity of life. Incorporate personal growth and development by accepting that sometimes things may not go so well. You can make mistakes, be rejected, and look silly. That’s fine, it’s part of life and an important way to evolve and mature as a person.
– Take charge and decide not to spread negativity and gossip on your social networks. Commit to sharing only good news. You may think that one person alone can’t make much of a difference, but when each of us takes a stand, we can sprinkle sunlight on our little corner of the world. Be the person who shares positivity, good results, and happiness. Influence, perhaps in a small way, your social media feed, your world, and your audience.
– Get out of your comfort zone. Join a class, a gym, or a group. Visit the same places regularly and you will find that you start to meet the same people. Get used to making an effort, dressing fancier, having to show up on time – a different set of skills required in modern offline life. Test yourself every day.
Just as you have found your place and been accepted online, remember to also keep a tentative toe in the offline world and allow yourself to meet many of those people who equally share your worries and insecurities. See how others behave together, (Social Media and the Teenager) and get some tips and advice to learn different ways to contribute to conversations, improve your social skills and develop a more confident approach in every area of ?? life.
Susan Leigh, counselor, hypnotherapist, relationship counselor, writer, and media contributor, offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness, and confidence. She works with individual clients, and couples, and provides workshops and corporate support.