Social media plays a significant role in your teen’s mental health. Not only does it distract them from their schoolwork, but it can expose them to bullying and exacerbate the need to fit in.
If your troubled teen is spending too much time on social media, it might be a good idea to have them undergo a social media detox.
A social media detox involves limiting or completely disconnecting your teenager from their social media accounts over a set period. In doing so, you can help them reprioritize their use of social media and remind them that there is so much more to life than what they see on the screen.
Helping your troubled teen disconnect from social media will cut any addictive habits and reset, which may also help alleviate mental health issues heightened due to their social media usage.
Does my teenager need a social media detox?
If you’re wondering if your teen needs a social media detox, start by asking yourself these questions:
How often is your teenager on social media?
Does it seem like they’re glued to their phone and continually ignoring the world around them?
Is it causing them to have sleep deprivation?
Do they ignore you or refuse to look up from their phone at the dinner table?
Your answers to these questions will tell you about your teen’s reliance on social media throughout their day. If your teenager is too reliant on their phone and social media, it could be a good idea for a social media detox.
5 adverse effects of social media on teenagers
Although social media plays a role in helping your child connect with their peers, a social media cleanse can be a helpful way to offset some of the following negative effects of social media.
If your teenager is prone to depression, social media can be a major trigger or make the feelings much more intense. The more time your teen spends online hiding behind the screen, the more removed they feel from their peers. This can make it harder for them to communicate effectively in person, causing them to withdraw further and increase their loneliness.
A major downside to social media is that it makes it easy for bullies to prey on those they view as weak. Cyberbullying can harm a teenager’s mental health during the critical developmental years, making it difficult for them to build the self-esteem they need to be a successful adult in the real world.
Social media also plays a part in making lonely teens feel left out when they see photographs of peers hanging out at events they weren’t invited to.
Because social media makes up such an important part of your teenager’s life, it can be difficult to pull them away from their phones or computer. The need for acceptance makes them feel pressure to respond quickly and maintain a constant interaction with their followers.
This can make their self-worth measured by how many comments and likes they get on each picture, causing major anxiety when their content doesn’t perform as well as they hoped. This constant pressure to put their best self forward and post the perfect photos leads them to have anxiety over everything they post.
While the anxiety is often tied to the pressure to create the best content, it increases a teenager’s need to fit in. From cyberbullying and name-calling, social media opens up the door to harsh words that can negatively impact your child’s mental health.
Social media causes teens to stress out about how people perceive them, making them anxious about the next time they see them face to face.
It’s really easy to get sucked into the vortex of social media. One minute your teen is scrolling through their social media feed only to realize that four hours have passed. A lot of this scrolling happens before bed, often causing your troubled teen to lose valuable sleep that they need to live a healthy life.
When struggling with sleep deprivation, your teen may have difficulty focusing in school, acting out or being extremely moody, or exacerbating existing mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.
4. Societal pressures
A major problem of social media is that teenagers often experience jealousy when comparing themselves to those they follow. Most people only post a “highlight reel” of their lives, so it can be easy to forget that there are people with real lives behind the screen. This often leaves teenagers wishing to be more attractive, skinnier, wealthier, and lead a less “normal” life.
Social media makes it easy for your troubled teen to compare their lives to others, and as a result, often leaves them disappointed — which can lead to depression, envy, and anger.
Jealousy is also a common trigger for cyberbullying. When someone isn’t happy with their own life, they often try to bring the other person down. Social media makes it easy for bullies to feel like they are hiding behind a mask, making it easier for them to say hateful comments online. This jealousy can be toxic for a teenager that is struggling with mental health issues.
Although social media makes it possible for your teen to stay in touch with friends and family near and far, it can make it more difficult for them to communicate effectively. Context and tone can be difficult to catch through text on social media, making it easy for teenagers to misunderstand something someone is trying to say, especially if someone jokes around or attempts to use a sarcastic tone.
Too much social media can also make your child anxious to communicate in person because they’re more comfortable doing it from behind their phone. This can make it more difficult for them to build meaningful relationships with friends, teachers, partners, and family.
How to protect your troubled teen post-cleanse
After your teenager goes through their detox from social media, you should encourage them to handle their social media differently post-cleanse. Continuing to use their social media responsibly will help limit the adverse effects on their mental health.
Sit down with your teenager to discuss the following:
- Time restrictions – It’s essential to make your teenager aware of the dangers of social media and how it can impede their sleep, school work, and relationships. Work with them to determine a nighttime routine that limits their screen time to ensure they’re able to get a good night’s sleep. Agree on when they will be allowed to access their social media, so it doesn’t consume their entire life. Some phones also allow them to set up time restrictions that lock them out of an app once the time limit has passed.
- Monitor accounts – Set ground rules with your teenager surrounding their social media use. Inform them that you will be regularly monitoring their profiles to keep an eye on their activity — and make sure you follow through. This will allow you to catch any problems such as cyberbullying in its early stages.
- Discuss appropriate actions – You must encourage your child to interact positively and appropriately with all of their peers on social media. It can be easy to get caught up in the drama and gossip that often surrounds teenagers, which is why you need to talk to your teenager about what is appropriate and safe communication on social media.
- Encourage in-person relationships – Remind your teenager that social media is only a small part of their life and that they should have face-to-face interactions with their peers regularly. Post-cleanse, continue to talk to them about their social media habits and find ways for them to have quality in-person interactions rather than hiding behind a screen.
If you think your troubled teen is showing symptoms of anxiety or depression tied to social media use, it may be time to seek treatment from a professional therapist. At Help Your Teen Now, we can help you find the right support system for your teenager.
Call Help Your Teen Now for a free consultation to answer all your questions about teen help programs like residential treatment centers.