Sponsored by Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Healthcare System
Social media is everywhere, and it’s not going anywhere.
Virtually everyone – no matter their age or status – engages with social media in some form. It is a tool that has the potential to bring people together and cause substantial harm. It can also have a significant impact on people’s mental health and wellness.
Teenagers are particularly susceptible to social media, according to Lauren English, a licensed professional counselor and business development representative with Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Healthcare. She cites a 2018 study that states that 45 percent of teenagers are online almost constantly while 97 percent are online on some social media platform.
“Right now, we all know that social media is a huge part of the world that we live in for young and old, but especially for teens. Social media is such a big part of their lives,” she says.
As a result, it’s critical that parents talk with their teenagers about social media and what they post, English says. Social media can be tricky even for the most seasoned of users, but many teenagers have not developed the maturity to fully think through what they post only.
“What do you say to teens to help them? Thinking about it, teens have a harder time because of their impulsive nature,” she says. “They don’t really have the ability to use discretion. They have a hard time thinking through the consequences a lot of times when they are getting ready to post.”
To help, English offers five tips to help parents talk with their teens about social media.
- Ask, ‘How Am I Feeling Right Now?’
- Strong emotions can influence the way we behave and the way we communicate with others. “If we’re anxious, if we’re angry, if we’re worried, if we’re mad, we end up saying things that we don’t mean,” English says. If your teen is experiencing these emotions, advise them to hold off posting anything.
- Ask, ‘Are You Okay with Everyone Knowing This?’
- Social media offers teens a greater audience for their thoughts and musings. While this can lead to greater potential for engagement or connection, it can also have drawbacks. A single misplaced comment can reverberate around a social media platform. “When people follow you on social media, you’re allowing them access to your personal information through video, through photo, though what you write,” English says. If you wouldn’t want everyone to know what you’re writing, it might be best to not post.
- Ask, ‘Is This Cyberbullying?’
- If your comment or post is more hurtful than helpful, it could be cyberbullying. It’s vital to help teenagers understand the impact that their posts can have on others.
- Ask, ‘Is This Something I Might Regret in the Future?’
- Comments or post on the internet can follow you around for years. Even if you delete something, it could be saved as a screenshot. Think about where you want to be in 10 years and how you want to be seen. “Post in a way that maybe 10 years down the road, you would feel comfortable,” English says.
- Ask, ‘Is This the Best Way to Communicate?’
- Sometimes, social media is not the ideal medium to get your thoughts across. Tone does not translate well on social media, and this can lead to misunderstandings. It may be necessary to use another form of communication to get your point across.