Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Social Media Can Make One of the Hardest Time in Your Life Even Harder

If anything has defined the last 10 years or so, it might be the use of social media, especially amongst teens.
Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms have made billions off of teenage users, with nearly 90 percent of teens having tried social media.  

This can lead to some major problems

Teenage years are notoriously tough. Kids use this time to figure out who they are, and their self-images are fragile. Dr Jessica Vitak, who studies this topic at the University of Maryland, says that social media can make this even more stressful, because now, all the world can see (and judge). 

Bullying becomes much easier when the tormentor can hide behind a computer screen. (This is called the "Online Disinhibition Effect"). In fact, studies show that more than half of all teens and adolescents
 have been cyberbullied, and 14 percent have considered suicide. 

There are some important steps that parents can take 

Social media creates a tricky situation for parents. According to Vitak, they often fall into one of two traps:

  • They are too hands-on, either by heavily monitoring their child's social media activity, or banning them from it entirely. This tends to cause kids to feel even more isolated.
  • They ignore it, out of fear of angering their child. 

Vitak says that the best thing that a parent can do is to be available. 

By having open dialogue between kids and their parents, Vitak thinks that social media can be what it's supposed to be- a fun, healthy form of self-expression. 

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