This summer I’ve noticed how much time my daughter spends on her phone; she’s looking down at it more than she’s looking out at the world. I see this as having both positive and negative impacts on her still developing mind, body, and soul. It’s great to see positive comments about friends on social media and to share successes. But, on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and other social media platforms, many people portray everything as perfect and wonderful, yet that’s not completely authentic nor reality.
My daughter has shared with me pictures of girls that have altered their posts with photo apps, which I see as contributing to these young women having impossible standards to live up to and can result in feelings of inadequacy and depression. The underlying, yet strong, messages about the importance of beauty and perfection concern me. Additionally, they see images on social media of suggestive poses or kids holding red Solo cups at parties. There are subliminal messages that all young people are engaging in sex and drinking and that’s just not the case. My daughter saw a photo of an underage friend in a bar and told me, “Mom, she’s 19 and she’s in a bar; I wonder where she got her fake ID.” These images create an inaccurate and inappropriate social norm.
More and more in the media we’ve seen stories about the impact social media has on mental health, especially for adolescents and young adults who are particularly vulnerable. Many teens use social media to project a certain image of themselves, which may or may not accurately reflect who they are or how they’re feeling. Others may look at social media profiles and think their own life is not as glamourous or fun. This can lead to feelings of vulnerability, anxiety, and depression. To cope or escape from these feelings, some teens then turn to harmful behavior, such as self-mutilation or substances like drugs or alcohol.
When my daughter is away at college, I don’t have the opportunities for teachable moments that I do at home. So, I believe it’s important to have conversations about social media to make sure my kids understand that who people are online is likely not who they are in real life. They are creating narratives through social media so they’re seen a certain way. It’s extremely important to help teens comprehend that how many “friends” or followers they have, how many likes or views their posts get, or how much fun it looks like others are having in their pictures, don’t matter as much as their own real-life experiences.
Go to "Actions & Consequences"
Return to the Main Page