You must think I hate social media!
The article I wrote titled Death by Social Media may have left that impression. But like with all things, I believe in balance. There are not many things that I view as all good or all bad. In this article, I want to explore the important role that social media plays in a teen’s life as well as why teens with social anxiety may need more boundaries with social media.
Who Am I? Where Am I Going?
Each stage of his theory is like playing a video game where you have to overcome one level to reach the next or you become stuck. Teens are at the level of identity vs. role confusion, in which socialization with peers is essential for answering the question of “Who am I?”
In a way, teens in this stage are doing vital sociological research.
We’ve talked about how teens try on new personas, styles, interests, and friendships in order to answer this important question. Because the only way to reach a place of self-assuredness is by exploring multiple possibilities.
There is just a new medium for conducting it this research!
The Evolution of Teen Communication
With the advent of technology, communication between teenagers has become easier and faster. However, in the past, older generations of teens relied on different methods to communicate and socialize with their peers. Back in the day, teens would communicate through landline telephones, letters, and face-to-face conversations. Teens would use landline telephones to talk to their friends far away, often for long periods of time. With letters, teens were able to express their thoughts on paper and send personal messages to their friends. And lastly, face-to-face conversations were most popular among teens as it allowed them to connect personally with their peers.
Although the approaches and technologies have evolved over the years, the importance of communication and socialization in a teenager’s life has remained constant.
Social media has become ubiquitous in the daily lives of teenagers, providing them with a unique platform to connect with the world. It has revolutionized the way teenagers communicate and express themselves, creating a virtual world where meaningful relationships can be formed. Social media offers teenagers the opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life and perhaps even develop relationships with individuals they would not have met otherwise.
However, it is also important to remember that social media can be a double-edged sword
It can also lead to negative social behaviors like bullying and unrealistic body standards. Nonetheless, the overall impact of social media on teenage connection remains profound.
Risks of Social Media for Anxious Teens
The effects of social media use on teenagers with anxiety can be negative, as social media often promotes a culture of constant comparison, which can trigger feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem in anxious teens. Additionally, social media can be a source of stress, as notifications and messages often create a sense of urgency, and the pressure to maintain a perfect online persona can be overwhelming.
Teens with social anxiety are often hesitant to engage in face-to-face social interactions and may feel more comfortable communicating with others through social media platforms.
Social media can allow these teens to form social connections with peers without the added stress of in-person communication. However, research suggests that excessive use of social media can actually worsen social anxiety symptoms.
It is important for teens with social anxiety to find a balance between social media use and face-to-face interactions to improve their social skills and overall well-being.
In addition to making social communication less anxiety-provoking, teenagers with social anxiety may need to watch out for oversharing and boundary violations on social media. Because social media lowers inhibitions, teens with social anxiety may feel more free to share information that they would not in person. Also because these teens have less practice with social interactions due to their anxiety, they are not as skilled in boundary setting as those with more confidence.
The Sunny Side of Social Media
As previously stated, social media serves an essential function in teen development by being a modern tool for social interactions.
Social media can be a helpful tool for teens with social anxiety by helping them connect with others who share similar experiences, and access information and resources that can help them manage their anxiety. Overall, it is important for parents and mental health professionals to be aware of the potential risks and benefits of social media use for teenagers with anxiety.
When parents hear about the negative sides of social media, such as increased anxiety and mental health concerns, cyberbullying, negative self-comparison, and more, the immediate response is to eliminate use altogether. This extreme form of control NEVER works! All the things that we place harsh controls around are the things that become most attractive. It’s human nature! The more you restrict, the more you want.
Have you ever tried to eliminate certain foods from your diet and suddenly it’s all you can think about?
Not only that but going back to our conversation about teenage development we know that teens need to socialize with one another. Social media is their main platform for that today.
Back in the day, my friends and I would three-way call each other from our landlines. Then it was instant messaging on AOL. If that had been removed from my life, I would have lost out on a key opportunity for social development.
So with that, there needs to be room for social media usage!
Eliminating social media isn't the answer... setting boundaries is!
Social Media + Boundaries = Perfect Balance
First, let me start with the most fundamental question – what are boundaries?
Boundaries are essentially a set of limits or guidelines that define the extent of acceptable behavior, actions, or interactions in any given situation or relationship.
These boundaries may vary based on the individual’s personal values, cultural background, and societal norms.
Setting and maintaining boundaries is crucial to maintaining healthy relationships, building self-respect, and preventing burnout.
At work, personal boundaries can help employees avoid overworking, stress, or resentment, and improve productivity, creativity, and motivation.
In conclusion, boundaries are an essential aspect of personal and professional growth, and it is essential to understand and respect them to build healthy and fulfilling relationships.
Boundaries keep us safe!
As human beings, we all have physical, emotional, and mental limitations.
Boundaries are essential for safeguarding these limitations.
They help us establish a sense of control, create a safe space, and protect us from harm. For instance, if we set limits on our personal relationships, we can avoid being exploited or manipulated.
Similarly, when we set boundaries at work, we can avoid overworking and ensure a healthy work-life balance. Thus, boundaries offer us a sense of clarity and support in staying safe and achieving our goals.
By respecting our boundaries, we empower ourselves and promote healthy relationships with others, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling life.
Teens Need Help With Boundaries
Teenagers need boundaries to help them develop self-discipline, self-control, and independence. When parents provide limits and guidelines, teenagers develop a sense of responsibility and learn to make better decisions. This not only benefits them in the present but also in the future as they become more responsible adults.
Additionally, boundaries provide a sense of security for teenagers as they navigate the challenges of adolescence.
By setting boundaries and having clear expectations, parents can help their teenagers understand what is acceptable behavior and what is not. This, in turn, can lead to a healthier and more positive relationship between parent and teenager.
Ultimately, setting boundaries is an essential part of raising a responsible and well-adjusted teenager.
It's a Conversation Not an Ultimatum!
Parents and teens communicating about boundaries can be a challenging task, but it is crucial for building a healthy and trusting relationship.
Young people need to explore their independence and express their unique identities, but navigating the boundaries of acceptable behavior can be tricky.
Communicating clear expectations and listening to each other’s concerns helps establish healthy boundaries and fosters respect and trust between parents and teens.
While setting limits and consequences for neglecting boundaries may cause temporary conflicts, learning to navigate these issues helps teens better understand important values and shape their next steps into adulthood.
As parents, it’s important to remain consistent and stay open to learning and adapting to new challenges that may arise during the teenage years.
Ultimately, when parents and teens are able to communicate and establish healthy boundaries, it paves the way for a stronger and more fulfilling family dynamic.
Now let's talk about the foundations of boundaries for teen social media usage!
Key Elements for Establishing Social Media Boundaries!
Learn what your teen likes about social media!
Approach it from a curious place, not a judgmental one. Show interest in learning what apps your teen likes, how they work, and what they gain from them, maybe ask about challenges associated with the app. Get to know who they interact with most on the different platforms. Continue to have an open dialogue about social media!
Check out the platform(s) yourself!
Because you have opened a safe, nonjudgemental dialogue with your teen about social media, your teen will be more agreeable to this next suggestion.
Download the apps your teen has and get to know how the app works. Establish a rule that you and your teen will be friends on social media as a point of safety, not as a privacy violation.
Establish early boundaries about how you and your teen will engage as friends on social media. Get clear about what actions and behaviors you will step in to help navigate and the ones you will not. Talk to your teen about what they need to feel safe online, but also what they need in order to maintain a level of necessary privacy.
Create a Written Social Media Agreement
Take all of the points you and your teen have discussed and write them down. Record your responsibilities and theirs in a contract and include the boundaries in clear language that everyone involved understands. You also want to have a section that serves as an action plan for certain risky behaviors and/or safety concerns that may arise using social media.
The benefit to creating a contract with your teen is to increase their level of buy-in. This means they are more likely to comply and be agreeable to rules since they had some say in the set terms. The contract also gives you a leg to stand on when a rule gets violated. You don’t have to be the bad guy, because it’s in the contract. You refer to the contract.
The most important thing about the agreement is that you remain consistent with it and adhere to what it says! If you only follow through some of the time, it will carry no weight and your teen will not take it seriously.
Begin Therapy for Teens in Metairie, LA Today!
As a Therapist, I have both personal and professional experience with these issues and am prepared to walk this journey of self-discovery with your teen. Follow the steps below to get started. Through ownership, balance, and practice, your teen can own the stage and the stage called life!
Other Mental Health Services Offered at Creative Counseling and Wellness
At my practice, I specialize in working with teens and their families. I work with a wide variety of individuals such as LGBTQ+ Teens, Teens with Anxiety, Theater Teens, Creative/Artistic Teens, Teens Questioning Gender Identity, High Achieving Teens, Teens with Social Anxiety, and Teens Struggling with Perfectionism.
Additionally, I also provide support with Group Therapy for Teens. My own life and experience give me a unique perspective that lends itself to working with teens especially.
Reach out today!