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If you are concerned about your child spending too much time in front of the screen, you’re not alone. Research shows that 65% of parents report feeling worried about how their child interacts with technology. This anxiety appears to be reasonable: 95% of teenagers between ages 13–17 have access to a smartphone, and nearly half of teenagers indicate using the Internet constantly.1

In some cases, social media can wreak havoc on a teenager’s self-esteem. But using TikTok or YouTube doesn’t mean they are inherently doomed. Let’s get into what you should know.

Social Media Use Can Be Positive

Social media gets a bad rep, but when used in moderation it can be an influential asset in strengthening a teenager’s self-esteem.

 Children start developing a sense of worth around eight years old. During prepubescence, they start recognizing the importance of creating an identity, and they become more interested in achieving success.

Social media allows teenagers to connect with one another and form a unique sense of identity. These apps can help youth feel less isolated and bond with friends creatively. Subsequently, the Internet can also help people learn more about current events and develop real-world skills that may boost self-sufficiency and independence.2

When Social Media Becomes Risky

Social media is a slippery slope. Teenagers are especially impressionable, and they may not realize the severity of certain actions when they’re living ‘in the moment.’

Social media can become risky when your teenager:

  • Spends too much time online and persistently detaches from the real world.
  • Avoids or neglects basic responsibilities to spend time online.
  • Becomes a perpetrator or victim of cyberbullying.
  • Follows toxic beliefs reinforced through social media.
  • Shares personal information online.
  • Engages in risky or illegal behaviors like sexting. 

One or more of these risk factors can take a significant toll on your child’s emotional well-being and self-esteem. In serious cases, problematic social media use can result in safety issues or legal consequences.

How Parents Can Help 

Technology isn’t going anywhere, and it’s crucial to adapt to its role in modern society rather than expect your child to rebel against it. Here are some tips to consider.

Talk About Social Media Use

Keep the lines of communication open. Ask your teenager to tell you how social media makes them feel and let them know they can come to you if they have concerns about something they see or do. Be mindful to avoid judgment—if you want your teenager to trust you, you must be willing to listen.

Set Specific Limits

Reinforce designated hours and locations where your teenager can use their phone or computer. Be clear with these boundaries and be prepared to implement them, even if your child protests.

Reinforce Using Coping Skills

While self-esteem comes from the inside, there are external actions people can take to improve how they feel about themselves. For example, encourage and reinforce when your teenager spends time with positive influences, makes healthy decisions, or follows creative passions.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes problematic social media habits indicate a deeper problem with depression or anxiety.

It’s important to talk to your child if you suspect they are struggling with their self-esteem. At Idaho Youth Ranch, we can help you initiate this conversation. Contact us today to get started.



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