New studies are starting to show how much social media can damage your mental health. Strong correlations have been found between high levels of social media use and depression, anxiety, loneliness, isolation, low self esteem and suicide. Now, no one expected that social media would be a Positive Existential Reinforcement as practiced by the Naya Clinics but people have been surprised by how many people are being negatively affected by social media.
This has been particularly evident in teenagers who have not developed a lot of life experience to call on when dealing with problems and are at a time in their life were non familial relationships are becoming increasingly important in how they see themselves. Some social interaction that would seem minor to an adult will seem like the end of the world to a teenager. So how do you protect your kids from the negative consequences of social media use?
The first thing you must do is keep channels of communication open with your teen. Despite their apparent interest in staring at their mobile phone for hours on end it is important to drag them away from it from time to time and get them to interact with you using traditional channels like talking. No only will this act as healthy time away from social media but it will also give you a lot of insight into their state of mind. Let them know that they can talk to you about anything that is bothering them. Let them know they can be honest with you without you overreacting and doing something that embarrasses them in front of their friends.
Help them set their own limits on social media use. We all want our kids to make good choices and the best way to do that is empowering them to make those choices themselves with your guidance. You can decide as a family to have periods of time where no one looks at their phones such as at dinner or on a day you set aside for family activities. It will not only benefit your kids having a day away from social media but will also be good for the adults and will also let you spend more quality time together as family.
Discuss with your children the repercussions of too much social media. Your kids may be completely unaware how staring at the projected images of celebrities lifestyles may make their life seem inadequate but if you get them to recognize that they are only seeing a best side and not the problems and mundane activities that everyone has to go through. By demystifying the social media experience you will teach them to ask smarter questions about the lifestyles being projected.
Like it or not social media has become ubiquitous in our modern society and learning how to have a healthy relationship with it is an important part of growing up. It is important that your kids learn good habits and how to recognize the problems that overuse can cause