Social Media and your Teen’s Self-worth: is it worth it?

It’s the age of technology! Growing up can be tough, especially with teenagers just learning how to navigate the ups and downs of life. The question about social media and your teen’s feeling of self-worth is that is it worth it?

Today’s teens are constantly bombarded with the pressure to show up online especially on social media sites to stamp their presence/existence. Thanks to the advent of smartphones (Blackberry, iPhones etc.)and handy computers (ipads and large tablets, laptops) have brought these sites within their reach..

Social media sites rank as the number one use of the internet around the world!


selfie The Pressure to Show Up and Look Good

While teens have always been pressured to grow up properly, do well in school and become attractive, healthy members of society, they haven’t always been pressured to publicly document that journey by running a Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and posting a constant stream of perfectly lit photos to each.

Anyone who goes online regularly knows that there is no escape from the ongoing bombardment of tweets, photos and personal information coming through the social media feeds. Deleting profiles and going offline has been deemed unacceptable in many social circles, and even attempting to take a break can often lead to questions, comments and ridicule from peers. A well-intended uploaded picture could be trashed by friends.

There is so much pressure on teens to show up online, update about their lives, and make themselves look good, and when they can’t accomplish this, the effects can be devastating.

Giving Away Power and Feeling Left Out

Social media provides the opportunity for young people to give their power away to others. Many teens are basing their self-worth on the number of “likes” they receive instead of their scholarly accomplishments or the way they treat others, which can lead to serious hurt feelings when people respond negatively to something they post.

Social media can also cause feelings of being left out, as less-popular teens can see photos and hear updates about parties and events they were not invited to. These feelings of missing out can lead teens to become obsessed with updating their social media profiles, especially when combined with the need to post attractive photographs and the inherent pressure to fit in that has always existed. When this happens, the teen’s self-esteem, schoolwork, friendships and relationships with family can all suffer.

Cyber Bullying

Yes, bullying has gone beyond the walls of our classrooms and has registered its presence online. A 12-year-old girl in Florida committed suicide after she was repeatedly bullied online by her classmates.  Until parents realize the danger in giving their child an iPhone or letting them get on social media sites on a laptop in their room with no supervision, these stories will continue and only worsen. I pray we wake up and do something different.

How Parents can help
  • Never allow your teen or preteen to have a social media account without your consent.
  • Always monitor your teen online activity. Many parental monitoring software offers parental notification tools to monitor their children’s activity. 
  • Be involved in helping him/her set up a social media account when you think he/she is matured enough to have one. It should never be based on peer pressure or feelings of want.
  • Help him or her understand the consequences of his actions online. Every action such as commenting on posts, updating his or her status, uploading pictures, stays online. They should also enable the privacy option.

This isn’t to say that all social media is completely evil. It allows people to connect to each other and helps businesses advertise their products in a more effective way. However, for teens, it’s important to keep things in perspective. They need to limit time on social media as much as possible.

I know this is a tough call parent, but it’s important for your teen’s self-development. You need to limit their time on social media sites and it’s up to you to educate them on the effects.

Contributed by Tolu Opanuga (Mrs) | Kids /Teen Life Coach
Read Also: Parents Guide to Social Media for Teens
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