Teenagers struggle with self-esteem. It is just part of the job. Unfortunately for some teens, social media has become a source of artificial self-esteem. The ‘likes’ of social media fill a void parents sometimes do not understand or fail to recognize.
Times They Are A Changin’
Teen years are all about change. Bodies, voices, thoughts, and feelings all conspire to leave teens feeling ‘weird’ and they worry they are the only one who has ever felt that way. The weird feeling, however, is perfectly normal.
Perhaps now more than ever, teens are at greater risk for self-esteem issues because of the frequency with which they are confronted with an ‘ideal’ representation of who they should be, what they should look like, and how they should act and think. Yet there are teens who avoid these pitfalls and those who do have good foundations at home.
They Really Like Me
Today’s teens have wonderful access to the wealth of information offered by the internet including the opportunity to reach out to others through social media. As dynamic and interesting as social media can be, for teens who are struggling with self-esteem, social media can also be a virtual minefield. ‘Likes’ are a sought after. When the likes come in there is a small boost to the measure of acceptance they feel. Social media is not all bad.
Social networks can help teens feel connected to the world in wonderful ways. It can give teens more opportunities to affect real change in the world. However, teens who appear to use social media in positive ways often have the support of their parents who have shown them how to use social media appropriately.
The Dark Side Of Social Media
However, when teens become hyper-focused on the number of likes their posts receive, they begin to feel ‘weird’ again. For teens who are bullied, the internet becomes another battleground. Yet they won’t abandon it because social media gives them a dose of positive self-esteem. Likes become crucial for some teens because doses of positivity are missing from their real world.
Parents who are frequently critical or those who do not place an importance on sending their teens the message that they are loved and accepted, they unwittingly help their teens succumb to the dark side of social media.
The truth is self-esteem and positive social media experience all boils down to parenting. Teenagers who resort to bullying have not been taught the impact of their words in the same way as teenagers who are using social media to expand their worldview.
Teens who use social media to lift themselves are often missing being lifted at home. All too often these teens end up resorting to other coping mechanisms such as drugs or alcohol. Parenting is the beginning of self-esteem.