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How The Media Affects Pre-Teens and Teens

  • From eating disorders to cyberbullying, there’s a host of problems with teens caused by social media   
  • While social media isn’t all bad, the consequences of using it seem troubling.   
  • Should we blame the media for all these negative effects, or is there something deeper? Let’s find out.  

Getting that perfect selfie to post on Instagram or making a Tik Tok video showing off the latest trending dances and obsessively monitoring the likes and comments is the norm for pre-teens and teens in this day and age.  

“Social media is not real life,” said Essena O’Neill, a 19-year-old Australian Internet star who quit social media in November 2015 to prove the point. Essena had over 600,000 Instagram followers and a Tumblr following of over 200,000. Fans and friends erupted as soon as she went silent. They accused the Australian teen of closing her social media accounts to gain more fame and attention. Fans and followers began posting blogs and videos in response to Essena’s social media hiatus, with some even sending death threats.   

Benefits Of Social Media   

Cuts Down on Feelings of Isolation   

According to one study, even though teens today have fewer friends than they did a decade ago, they still feel less lonely than their predecessors. As a result, they say they feel less isolated. According to some studies, social media and technology make all the difference.   

Teens’ self-esteem rises as they develop a sense of self-identity and find their place in the world.  

When teenagers are more confident in their uniqueness, they are less likely to feel lonely. Even more so if the friendships are strong.  

Teens’ increased use of social media may also be resulting in an improvement in their social skills.  

Solid online communication skills are becoming increasingly important as technology becomes more pervasive in our daily lives. Teenagers learn how to use social networking sites and other online communication methods using social media. As a result, they are more effective communicators in today’s increasingly digital world.  

Social Media is an Information Hub  

Many teens rely on social media for news and information. They can follow anyone with a social media account once they start social networking. They are connected to authors, athletes, celebrities, chefs, non-profits, and magazines.  

Teens can also learn about issues affecting them or their peers. For example, they can gather information about a friend’s eating disorder or drug addiction. Plus, they can also use social media to learn more about a presidential election, climate change, or even new healthy eating habits.  

Social Media Has the Potential to Create a Platform  

Your teen can use social media to start building an online presence that will capture the attention of colleges and potential employers. Some teenagers, for example, create YouTube videos or blog posts about topics they are passionate about.  

An Outlet for Self-expression   

Digital technology is the ideal medium for expressing creativity and individuality. Regardless of whether they enjoy singing, writing, or acting, children can share their talents with the world. Kids interested in fashion, makeup trends, and craft projects can also express themselves online. Providing this outlet for self-expression is essential for adolescents.  

According to research, there is a direct relationship between self-expression and self-confidence. When children are given opportunities to be authentic to themselves, they become more content and happier overall.  

Adverse Effects of Social Media on Teens  

Anxiety   

Facebook is a very emotional place for teens. They also feel pressure to have flawless photos and well-written content, generating anxiety. Studies show that the greater a teen’s online social network, the more anxious they are about keeping up.   

Keeping up with each social media platform’s hidden norms and culture requires time and effort. This adds pressure to teenagers, causing anxiety. An online faux pas can also cause teenagers distress. Many kids, especially females, worry about what people will think of them when they meet them. Social media may be a harmful source of worry for many kids due to cyberbullying, slut-shaming, and other harsh online behaviours.  

Jealousy  

Jealousy may take its toll on teens’ minds if they compare themselves to classmates. They may obsess over what others have or have experienced. Due to how posts are selected, it might appear to readers that others have more adventurous lives, fostering feelings of inferiority.   

 Sadly, many kids are unaware that individuals tend to just broadcast the highlights of their lives on social media, leaving out ordinary or challenging situations. Online, someone’s life may appear flawless, yet outside, they have challenges like everyone else.   

 It’s easy for kids to compare themselves to others and assume they’re better off. This can lead to sadness, loneliness, rage, and other concerns. Untreated envy can lead to bullying and meanness.   

Depression  

Researchers are just starting to find a link between social media and depression. Even though they haven’t found a cause-and-effect link between social media use and depression, they have found that social media use can make depression worse, like spending less time with friends and feeling lonelier.  

Less Sleep   

Occasionally, adolescents spend so much time on social media that they lose sleep. As a result, sleep deprivation can result in irritability, a decline in grades, a lack of physical activity, and overeating, as well as aggravate pre-existing conditions such as depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 4  

Research demonstrates a crystal clear correlation between increasing screen usage and the development of ADHD symptoms, such as trouble concentrating, emotional management, poor attention, hyperactivity, and insufficient sleep.  

How To Go About Limiting The Media’s Negative Effects   

You cannot prevent your teen from being exposed to harmful media images, but you can limit their exposure and have a productive conversation about them.   

Your adolescent will see idealized versions of beauty everywhere because smartphones and other electronic devices are widely accessible. However, you can teach your teen media literacy.   

Engage in conversations regarding unhealthy body images. Discuss body acceptance and the fact that all bodies are unique and beautiful. Explain that the most important things about a body are what it can do and how healthy it is, not how it looks, and that striving for a “perfect body” can be unrealistic and unhealthy. Discuss the extreme and dangerous measures that some people take to obtain these body types.  

Listen to your teen. Ask them how they feel when viewing these media images. Ask them how they think about their physical appearance. Assist them in processing their emotions. Seek assistance from a healthcare provider or therapist if body image issues are causing distress or negatively affecting self-esteem.  

Discuss the unethical advertising practices that are sometimes employed to sell products. Help your teen recognize implicit claims that a product will make them more attractive.   

Use real examples. Together, watch television, pause shows and commercials to discuss the messages being sent, examine magazines, and discuss unrealistic images.  

We hope you enjoyed this blog post!  

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