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How Social Media is Damaging our Young Minds

Social media is an essential part of many teenagers' lives. But what effect does social media have on teenagers?

Adolescence is a critical period of rapid development. And not a lot of us are paying enough attention to how teenagers use social media.

Although research in this area is still in its infancy, the importance of social media in the lives of many young people is undeniable.

Here’s How Social Media Is Damaging Teenagers:

Teenagers can be negatively impacted by social media use because of the following:

● It distracts them,

● disrupts their sleep,

● Exposure to bullying

● Gossiping

● Exposure to unrealistic expectations

● Peer pressure

Though it may seem harmless, it is important to consider the purpose of using social media, and the long term implications that can result.

Indirect Communication

Teens are very good at keeping themselves busy from the time they get home from school until they go to bed.

As long as they aren't doing their homework, or even when they are, they're on the internet and on their phones. They text, share things, troll, scroll, you name it.

Before everyone had an online profile, teenagers were busy, too. At least back then, they were trying new things and succeeding or failing in many small real-time interactions that kids today don't get to do.

Teenagers nowadays are learning that most communication takes place in front of a screen, not a person.

Adding to Loneliness

A 'like' can briefly soothe feelings of loneliness, but it cannot replace socialization.

Adolescents who use social media to make up for lack of social skills may end up feeling even more lonely.

Based on verbal and nonverbal cues, face-to-face relationships provide a deep and lasting source of personal fulfillment and happiness.

Face-to-face communication establishes more meaningful ties through body language, touch, and facial expressions, as well as the interpretation of feelings through tone and nuance—all things lost in the digital world.

Adolescents frequently communicate online with people they know in person.

In moderation, this type of social media use allows teens to stay in touch with friends, classmates, and family.

But it can become problematic if online chatter dominates all social interaction or if kids passively consume more information than they actively engage with.

Rather than encouraging honest discussion, the 'like' feature can replace comments. It can also feel like a public rating system, making some youth feel scrutinized and ostracized.

Cyber Bullying

Peers on social media can readily amplify insecurities. Bullies may quickly spread violent, hateful, and humiliating comments and images.

Virtual violence has real-world consequences. Cyberbullied students are more prone to harm themselves through drug abuse, alcohol abuse, self-harm, and more.

Low self-esteem and health issues are also more common among them. There is evidence in the significant rise in teen suicide rates with the introduction of social media and smart phones.

Protecting your teen

There are things you can do to help your teenagers responsibly use social media and to lessen some of its harmful effects. Here are some of them:

Encourage Your Teens To Go Outdoors

Spending time outdoors can help keep your teen away from social media, even just for a few hours or days.

Not only does it help keep them away from the screen, but it also gives them a lot of health benefits.

Spending time outdoors help teenagers (and even adults) fight mental fatigue, anxiety, depression, and it also helps counteract the negative effects of over-exposure to social media & the digital world. See our other article on the benefits of being outdoors for teens.

Set Some Reasonable Limits

Talk to your teen about how not to let social media get in the way of their activities, sleep, meals, or schoolwork.

Encourage a Bedtime Routine

Set a routine that doesn't use electronic media, and keep phones and tablets out of teenagers' rooms so they can't use them. If you follow these rules, your kids will look up to you, so set an example.

Keep an Eye on Your Teen’s Accounts

It would help if you told your teen that you'd be looking at their social media accounts every once in a while. Follow through with your promise.

Though it may be challenging to get your teen to agree with this, you can always encourage them through open conversations.

Explain what isn't OK

Encourage your teen not to gossip, spread rumors, bully, or harm someone's reputation, whether it's online or not.

Talk to your teen about what is appropriate and safe to post on social media, and make sure they understand.

Encourage Your Teens to Talk to Each Other in Person

People who have a social anxiety disorder, like teenagers, should pay attention to this. Make sure you talk to your child about how they are using social media and how it makes them feel, then make sure your teen knows that social media is full of pictures that aren't real. If you think your teen has anxiety or depression because they are using social media, talk to them and show them that they are loved and matter.

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