Mental health topics in the news, parenting and all things kid and counseling related
With Facebook reaching its 10 year anniversary earlier this year, it has become part of our everyday culture. Teens and adults alike log on to the popular social media site to share thoughts, opinions, musings and photos as well as generate support for different causes. Its original intent was to promote social interactions and connect with others, but is it really successfully doing that? For many teens and adults alike, Facebook creates the illusion of social relationships, especially for those who struggle with friendships and peer interactions in everyday life. However, it is also creating or worsening depression among many teens especially as they observe their friends’ “highlight reels”. They are inundated with all the social gatherings that they weren’t invited to and all the fun that their friends are supposedly having. For teens who already have a difficult time socializing, this can make them feel even worse about themselves. Unfortunately, Facebook also allows people to be bolder in the things that they say than if they were face to face with people. This can result in bullying especially because most teens are friends with just about everyone on Facebook from their school instead of their actual circle of friends. In my experience as a counselor, Facebook is not always a good thing for teens. The social media site is great in providing groups and forums for people with a common issue. As a mom of a child with a severe peanut allergy, I have found a parent support group that has given me lots of knowledge, news and an ability to connect with others in that struggle with a food allergy. However, I also have worked with several teen clients who have found Facebook pages devoted to individuals who self injure. In one case, the teen had never self injured but was looking for a place to belong. Needless to say, she eventually tried self injury. So what do we do when a teen is struggling and their use of Facebook is not making life any better? I always encourage parents to monitor their child’s/teen’s social media use, either by friending them, having their password or having another trustworthy sometimes younger family member be friends with them to monitor activity. Also, talk to your teen about only friending people they actually know on Facebook, not a friend of their friend. If your teen struggles emotionally, limit their use. There is no need for them to be spending hours on Facebook if it’s only going to make them feel worse after they log off. Finally, encourage your teen to continue to socialize with their friends in real life. Encourage them to invite friends over or go to Starbucks’s or out to eat. That way they are actually socializing and learning important social skills.
I am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor working with people of all ages with a specialization in child and adolescent services.. Read on. You can also find me on facebook by following the link. Enjoy!