How To Have Meaningful Conversations with Your Children About Social Media
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube are social channels meant to keep people connected, engaged, and entertained. For adolescents growing up in the digital age in which social media has always existed, social media channels haven’t just become the norm – it’s a part of daily life.
Amid a global pandemic, social media proved to have its benefits. When safety protocols forced us to practice social distancing and quarantine, social media promoted social connection, which kept us from feeling isolated. The lives and routines of children and teens were disrupted when they were suddenly stopped from physically attending school and studying from home instead.
But while the intentions behind social media are good and its benefits are undeniable, there are also downsides to using the platforms.
The negative impacts of social media on mental health
How many hours does your child spend online each day? The truth is that many parents are not aware of their child’s online activities, especially with teens. According to recent surveys, teens spend nine hours a day online. They may be scrolling through social media, listening to music, chatting with friends, watching videos, or consuming other forms of content. However, experts argue that the amount of time spent online isn’t necessarily dangerous; rather, it’s the effects social media can have on their mental health.
Social media can impact your child or teen’s emotional well-being and mental health by triggering negative feelings. Images of unrealistic or unattainable beauty standards can lead to insecurities. Reading offensive and mean-spirited comments can result in feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety. Seeing posts by their social circles engaging in activities that they were excluded from can make them feel angry and left out, lowering their self-esteem, creating anxiety, and increasing feelings of disconnection. Teens can also become jealous when they see their peers with things they want but can’t have or afford, such as luxury items, expensive gadgets, and even vacations.
FOMO, or the ‘fear of missing out,’ is also common in children and teens. Kids this age don’t want to be the last to know and worry about exclusion. They fear being left behind when they don’t know the coolest memes, see the most viral videos, or know the latest events. Desperate not to miss experiences and trends, children and teens may spend unhealthy amounts of time on social media - so they don’t miss anything!
Are you worried that your child or teen’s social media use has become excessive and takes away from healthier activities? Are you concerned that your kid’s mental health may be suffering from scrolling through and engaging on social media? If you do, it may be time to have a meaningful conversation with your child about the negative impacts of social media. If you struggle with how to start this conversation, we can help.
If you’d like to discuss your child’s social media habits and mental health, reach us at 662-234-7521 or www.communicarems.org.
If you have an emergency, please call 911, go to your nearest emergency room or call 1-866-837-7521 to be connected to Communicare’s mobile crisis team, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.