The use of social media has increased exponentially among teenagers, that has even surpassed the number of adults who interact on social networks. Now more than ever, parents are worried about what their children might be seeing online, especially because they realized that their children are spending way too much time in front of a screen.
There are several benefits of using social networks such as: sharing daily activities with family and friends, sharing news, as well as useful information with others. Social Media allows teens to have access to the profile of almost every person, allowing them to discover more people with the same interests as them.
For introverted people, social networks are beneficial because they see them as a medium that helps them connect with other people easily. Since there is not a face to face interaction, there is not so much pressure in a conversation and teens can even take the time to think about how to answer to the conversation.
But there is also a dark side to the social networks that parents, must take into account. Although social networking applications like Instagram or Snapchat allow teenagers to share their daily activities with family and friends. Teens develop closer relationships with their peers and shorten distances thanks to social media. On the other hand social media can also impact them negatively.
Moreover, dangers of social media are not limited to poor body image and self-esteem, there is also a high probability of confronting online predators, cyberbullying, toxic comparisons, sleep deprivation, and less frequent face-to-face interactions, to name a few.
The Downs of Social media: How Social Media is affecting teens Body Image
The need for more likes: The need for people’s approval is translated into gain “likes” on social media. Most of the people want to give a good impression so they usually only share pictures or videos where they consider themselves to be good looking. Take Instagram as an example, pictures tend to go through filters and are even retouched with photoshop before they are shared. Self-image manipulation is one of the negative effects of social media on teens body image.
Learn about 5 Popular Apps Among Teens to Keep Track Of
This tendency puts pressure on teens, sending them a message that they need to be as good looking as possible or have the perfect body, to be accepted by society, making them compare themselves with people that they don’t even know.
Research made by Park Nicollet Melrose Center shows the development of poor body image can start as early as 6 years old. 40% of elementary school girls and 25% of elementary school boys want to be thinner. By late elementary school, 50% of girls are dissatisfied with weight and shape and have developed pervasive negative body esteem. Project EAT reported that 19% of high school girls reported chronic dieting and 57% engaged in unhealthy weight control behaviors.
Making comparisons: When teenagers are browsing through social media, they can learn almost everything about their peers. In which activities they participate, how is their appearance like, how are their social relationships like. Although they know that they only share their highlights on social networks, it is very difficult to avoid making comparisons. From Physical Appearance, social relationships, to activities they participate and life circumstances.
This leads to teenagers feeling worse about their own lives because of what they see on friends’ social media postings.
Fake friendships: Through Social Media, teens can add thousands of friends. The most common way is to connect with friends of their friends. The more people on the friend list, the more information they have access to. Also, they may use that information for other purposes. Even with privacy settings, there is no privacy on social media.
Teens feel that social media makes them feel more connected to their friend’s lives, they feel that when making a new friend, adding them on social media is a way to stay in touch.
However, social media can also influence friendships. Social Media can either start or end friendships. When it comes to making friends, teens sometimes take into account the popularity of their peers, perhaps putting aside their true friendships to have “cooler” friends.
That’s why spending too much time scrolling through social media can result in symptoms of poor self-esteem and poor self-body image along with anxiety and depression.
Learn more about Signs of Cyberbullying & Teen Depression.
How To Help Teens To Deal With The Negative Effects of Social Media
The key to helping teens is to keep the communication open. Honest communication shows your teen that you are there to support, not to judge or lecture.
Teach them to love themselves first. Encourage your child to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. Let them know that they are unique and loved. Remind your child that their worth is not based on their achievements, appearance, or how many friends they have on social media.This will help them feel more confident about themselves.
Talk to your teen about social media. Let them know that not everything in social media is real. Disconnect on weekends and spend more quality time with your teen. Let them know that there is a whole world out there with interesting things to do and see that are waiting for them to discover.