Increased Anxiety with Social Media and Girls
May 6, 2013 - 12:03:00 AM
The consequences of growing up and being exposed within minutes of whatever you do are changing pre-adolescents and adolescents especially for our girls. All tweens and teens have one thing in common and that is to be socially accepted by their peers. Self-esteem is not stable and the teen years are vulnerable years for learning more about yourself. Taking risks and understanding what you are good at as well as areas of weakness is scary for most teens and adults for that matter. However, can you imagine how much more frightening it would be if you knew that when you failed it would be tweeted, texted, and photographed for others to view and possibly make fun of? Teen years have always been stressful with the growing pains of adolescents, but with the expanded use of social media there is also an increased anxiety, reluctance to try new things, and constant comparing and being compared to others with the risk of losing popularity or being ostracized.
Is there a way parents can encourage their daughters to forgo the fear of being made fun of or laughed about if someone with a camera takes a less than flattering photo of them? Or how do parents encourage their daughters that it's okay if they fail something as long as they try when the child knows that someone may post the event online for all to see and make fun of? It isn't easy, and most parents wouldn't want to take the risk if it meant possible ridicule by their classmates later. The position is as compromising for the parent as it is for the child. I do have suggestions of how you can set up a safety net for your daughter and her closest friends, but the safety net is only as good as the girls involved honoring it.
1. Have your daughter make a list of her three or four closest friends.
2. Invite these friends to come over and tell them the only rule is no phones, laptops, or other electronics are allowed.
3. Make this tech free time important with talking about the importance of not be censored or photographed.
4. Keep the group confidential with each person so they know it is a safe place. Expand that confidentiality to never emailing about what was said, texting about what was said, or photos of the group members.
5. This group will become your main safety net. This group will be the safe people you can practice your speech on for a class you are intimated by or talking about your fear of heights, or whatever your fears are.
6. Parents can also encourage their daughters to join groups that empower girls. Groups such as the Girl Scouts, summer camps or volunteer programs where the girls are able to take risks and become involved in a project bigger than themselves or the pettiness they may deal with on a day to day basis among friends.
Social media has many advantages, but with those advantages are concerns. Our children are never free from censorship. They cannot grow up taking risks or being teenagers without someone seeing it, hearing it, or reading about it. This is damaging to self-esteems as well as stifling many of our teens from trying new experiences. It is also causing depression and anxiety in our teens which is being seen in many pediatric offices. Most of us grew up in a society that we compared ourselves to others and may have felt worse or better about ourselves because of that. Our mishaps weren't photographed, texted about, or instant messaged to others. The immediacy which captures our failures and then sends them to everyone we care about and some we don't even know was never a thought, yet it happens to our kids every day. As parents, the only protection is to have some sort of safety net built into your child's life. Social media is seeping in every nook and cranny of your home. Telling your child to forget about it is not working. -Mary Jo Rapini
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