Social media is all the rage right now. You can’t go anywhere without a billboard making a reference to an Instagram account, or a restaurant promoting its new menu on Facebook. While some of these scenarios are helpful in passing along valuable information, social media can also be used in a way that influences people in a negative way – especially teenagers.
It’s safe to say that most teens today have a phone, and the majority of those kids are also on some form of social media. From Tik Tok and Instagram to Snapchat and the ever present Facebook, the outlets that your teen can expose themselves to is almost unthinkable.
Some people might not think that social media has a negative impact on teen behavior; and in some ways, it can actually help your child to learn about different social norms and cultures – think of it as an educational experience. However, there is a massive downside to all of the easily accessed social media platforms.
According to the Mayo Clinic, social media can (and has) impacted the behavior and lifestyle of many teens through the following:
- Sleep disruptions
- Peer pressure
- Spreading rumors
The Mayo Clinic also references research that backs the negative impact of social media on teens; for example, they note that there is a correlation between social media usage and the occurrence of anxiety and/or depression.
What You Can Do
As a parent, you want to make sure that your child is safe and protected – while at the same time, allowing them the freedom they so ultimately crave. There is a fine line between the two when it comes to social media, and thankfully, there are some things you can do to help your child find a healthy balance between using social media while preventing issues over the long term.
Place a limit on how much screen time your teen gets each day. While they might fight this rule initially, it keeps them from mindlessly scrolling for all hours during the day. Left to their own devices, your son or daughter might end up missing out on sports practices, not completing homework, or forgetting to do their chores when they get home each day. You can set boundaries around using their phone in the evenings after school work is complete, or having some extra time on weekends to engage on social media if other tasks and chores are done.
Check in on what your teen is looking at. Just like how you would monitor what your son or daughter is watching on television as a young child and adolescent, the same can be done for social media platforms. If they aren’t doing anything that they shouldn’t be doing, then there’s no reason for them to object to random check-ins every couple of weeks!
Communicate. This is one of the most helpful tips for parents of teens who are engaging on social media. Let your child know the pros and cons of these types of platforms. After all, not every photo that they “like” is a behavior that they need to emulate. A teenager is also drawn to those accounts that have lots of followers, which can be challenging in a world where they are trying to fit in with their peers and be popular. Social media isn’t everything that it appears to be – and that can be a difficult concept for your teen to understand. Keeping lines of communication open and speaking to your son or daughter about what might be present on social media platforms is crucial.
Social media can certainly be used in productive and creative ways. However, it’s imperative that you know what your child is looking at, and pay attention to how often they engage on their phones. If, after setting boundaries, you still feel as though your child is compulsively looking at their phones and checking platforms, it might be time for any risks to their emotional and/or mental health.
Reach out to the team at Help Your Teen Now if you feel like your teen has frequent access to social media. Catching an issue and dealing with it before it becomes a bigger problem is so important! Give Help Your Teen Now a call today to discuss your options with their talented team of professionals.