Teens and social media: Set up a strategy that supports teens - Social Media Explorer
Teens and social media: Set up a strategy that supports teens
Teens and social media: Set up a strategy that supports teens

It’s difficult to identify a generational gap that is greater than the one caused by technology, particularly social media. In my clinic for child and adolescent psychotherapy, the most frequent question I receive from parents is how to speak with teens about technology use.

Teens are worried that their mental health is being affected by technology overload. Teens have it more complex. It doesn’t matter if they use social media, gaming, or even chat boards, digital technology has been integrated in their daily life.

When faced with this conflict, I ask my parents and caregivers how they are doing. MoreThey are using technology with their children, but HowIt is used and the purpose. ImpactingTheir headspace. When we are able to answer those questions we can collaborate with others to solve them.

Instead of fighting the problem and getting into a tug-ofwar, family members can concentrate on what the holiday season has in store. HowThey use social media. Families can work together to create a strategy for teens that promotes mental and social health.

The importance of parents and caregivers spending time with teenagers in reflective partnership is crucial. This is not something parents should do on their own. This is my 4-step guide to helping you navigate the new territory and making healthy, productive changes.

Step 1. Help teenagers evaluate the use of social media.

Discuss the quality and relevance of what your children consume online. Are you finding positive content, such as inspirational quotes and pictures of adorable babies? Are there negative content, such as politically-charged news and memes making fun of specific groups? Content isn’t all created equally. Without critically and intentionally evaluating the buckets in which content belongs, it can be difficult to determine what you should consume.

The use patterns of your teenagers are just as crucial. Are they more likely to use social media when feeling sad, angry, bored, or down? Is it because they want to be able to ignore their discomfort or avoid doing the homework that has been piling up? Is it possible to get away from the device and not feel any discomfort?

You might be able to identify an anxiety-related problem by asking teenagers to consider the relationship between what they do in real life and how it affects their use of Instagram, TikTok or other social media sites. It is possible to help your teens identify more effective ways to manage their discomfort, such as calling a friend and listening to music.

Step 2 – Ask your clients how they are using social media.

Ask your teenagers to openly discuss the effects of social media on mental health. What does it feel like to scroll on social media? Is there a noticeable difference in their feelings when they see one type of content such as puppy videos, body-positive posts or photos of influencers that are heavily edited or unrealistic, or content written by someone who is in a negative mindset?

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Many teens admit that they feel anxious when the thought of leaving their social media accounts is brought up. However, teens feel more at ease if they can get rid of their devices. This is not surprising as it can be helpful to take time off social media in order to stay in the present and improve your mood.

Teens will feel more inclined to change their behavior on social media if they can create more connections between their use of the platform and their feelings about it.

Step 3: Instruct teens to make the desired changes.

Ask your teenagers if they would like to make changes in the way that they use social media. If so, what? They might have decided that social media should be less of a priority. Maybe they’ve noticed that social media makes them feel bad about their own lives. It doesn’t matter what the changes might be, this is a great time to list them and establish specific goals.

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It is helpful to think about what the change would bring you. Do they want to be able to use the time for other activities? Do they want to improve their self-esteem or mood? Are they seeking more genuine connection and authentic experiences?

Setting goals is crucial for your teenager. They will likely buy in to the process and be willing to make changes.

Step 4 – List the steps you need to take and agree to them

It is now that you can get real. For your teenagers to reach their goals, what is the best way to help them? Is it necessary for them to have screen-time, or limit the use of their smartphone? Do they need the phone to stay in the same place as the bed when it goes to sleep, or into a basket during dinner?

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They might be happy spending so much of their time online and want to spend more on the things they eat. Which accounts make them unhappy and which ones they want to block? What kinds of accounts should they follow or unfollow? What will their approach be to spring cleaning? How will they spring-clean their feed? Will they swap five of the negative accounts for five each day or are they open to trying another approach?

Some teenagers have found that disabling comments and making accounts private or keeping social media usage within certain limits, such as specific hours, can help them regain some control.

A generation of digital natives sits across from generations that grew up playing outdoors with their next-door neighbors. It can be difficult to believe both sides are from the same planet when it comes technology topics such as social media.

It is not worth trying to change teens’ ways of thinking. Instead, accept technology usage as a part of daily life and focus on quality, rather than quantity. That will lead to more productive conversations. It’s in this space that real, positive change can take place.

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About the Author

Adam is an owner at Nanohydr8. He really loves comedy and satire, and the written word in general.

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