Social Media and Your Child’s Brain: Why You Need to Pay Attention
Too many adolescents equate the attention they get on social media with their self-worth.
Parents need to pull back the curtain on social media—exposing tactics being used to get tweens and teens hooked.
Adolescents have always worried about how they measure up: Am I attractive? Am I popular? These are very important questions to anyone of this age because they want to fit in. Social media sites such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook answer those questions in a public way. The number of “likes” a teen’s posts have received is shown for all to see. Even the number of photos they have been “tagged in” is also shown.
These sites not only provide a virtual place for tweens and teens to hang out, but new research also shows that they play a key role in how they measure and manage their social success. It can be stressful to keep up with hundreds of online friends and maintain an inviting digital profile while managing the daily inundation by posts sent that may show peers living seemingly better lives!
Because the rational system in the brain matures slowly in adolescents, they’re more likely to submit to their emotions. Measuring, managing, and internalizing social success may take a toll on their mental health. Adolescent girls are more likely to use social media to compare their own lives to those of their peers, or at least the “online life” that the peers can create.
The time it takes to maintain these online sites can cause anxiety and can drain time away from more important things such as homework, family time, and sleep.
Parents need to check in daily on their teen’s online life. Take an interest and be very aware of the reality of the trap of social media. Become as involved in their “social media” life as you are in their real life with your family.
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Rick Stephens is a co-founder of Raising Families. With 33 years of experience as a top-level executive at The Boeing Company and having raised four children of his own, he is able to support parents and grandparents by incorporating his knowledge of business, leadership, and complex systems into the family setting. In his “free time” Rick enjoys road biking, scuba diving, visiting his grandkids, and generally trying to figure out which time zone he’s in this week. Read full bio >>