Anxiety and Social Media
At the Summerland Program at Camp Pocono Trails (CPT), we’ve seen a dramatic rise in the use of social media, especially among female campers, in the last 5 years. When our founder, Dr. Mike Bishop first discussed “screen addiction” with NPR, Snapchat was relatively new on the scene and TikTok hadn’t been invented. Fast-forward to today and it’s apparent that our concern for the potential negative influences social media might bring was well-justified.
Whether we like it or not, tweets, likes, posts, and snaps now saturate our teens’ lives. Social media and the internet may be used for good, such as receiving assistance or interacting with individuals halfway around the world, but they also have a terrible side that we are all aware of.
Negatives of Social Media
The negative side has to do with teens who judge their value by how they appear or how many people like their images, as well as cyberbullying. These problems can easily result in the need for residential treatment like Summerland at CPT.
Teenagers have quite different lives than their parents when their parents were their age. According to a Pew Research Center, about 25% of kids say they spend “almost continuously” online, with daily usage of the internet reaching over 90%. Daily internet use might not be a problem, but being online “nearly continuously” might.
You might not think that’s a problem, but research has shown that the media has a detrimental impact on young girls’ self-worth and body image—two issues that Summerland at CPT focuses on addressing. It’s not just the media, though; it’s what young girls are demanded of online as well.
How to support your teen who is anxious about social media
These suggestions may be useful if your teen frequently exhibits signs of stress after using a phone or laptop, as well as sleep deprivation from staying up late browsing social media and sending texts.
Suggestion #1: Be willing to listen.
Anxiety brought on by social media is genuine. Fear of missing out (FOMO) exists. They evolved as a result of the introduction of new technologies into society, therefore you must adapt and be willing to consider it an issue that requires serious attention.
Suggestion #2: Avoid passing judgment.
Although it may seem trivial to you to spend insane amounts of time looking through Instagram or sharing images on Snapchat, it might be something very genuine to your teen. Even if it’s not how you used to communicate when you were her age, that could be the primary method they interact with people. You need to let your child know you’re there for them since the social media anxiousness they’re displaying might most surely lead to serious problems.
Suggestion #3: Encourage additional offline activities.
You may encourage your daughter to engage in other things rather than her phone, but you can’t make her do it. Inquire about her interests; if she enjoys painting, make an offer to enroll her in an after-school art class. Encourage her to do what she wants to, not what you think she should do. Encouraging and participating in new, fun healthy activities is one of the cornerstones of Summerland at CPT.
Suggestion #4: Set up distinct borders.
Discuss what personal boundaries are and why they are important. At the Self Esteem group at Summerland at CPT we play games and have discussions about online personal boundaries and why personal boundaries are a foundation for healthy self-esteem. Self-esteem is an ongoing topic in our daily routine.
A personal boundary for screens can be a technology curfew that begins an hour before bed. Make sure your teen is aware so that she may inform their friends if they won’t be using their phone at a specific time to avoid unnecessary concern. This gives your teen the chance to unwind from social media and get a full night’s sleep.
Suggestion #5: Don’t be reluctant to look for expert assistance.
You can’t always handle all of your child’s problems by yourself as a parent. It might be time to seek professional help from Summerland at CPT if you truly feel that your child suffers from social media anxiety and it is having a detrimental impact on their ability to make friends, socialize, participate in activities, or perform well at school.