Many parents justifiably worry about how their teens will get affected due to excessive exposure to technology. Adolescence is a period when rapid development takes place but this is also a period when these teens are prone to making more use of technology also. Parents think that when teens use the Internet excessively, they may sign up on social media sites also and this may induce anxiety in them. The incidence of teen anxiety has been on the increase and hence, parents are justifiably concerned about this.
Peer acceptance and how it affects teens
Peer acceptance or peer pressure is a big factor that affects teens of today. As far as using social media sites is concerned, they vie with each other to boast of the number of likes they get for their posts, for the images they upload on their pages and for the messages they send across. In short, they want to project themselves with a good image and take more care for protecting and maintaining that image. In fact, teens have always been behaving like this but they think that social media sites are providing them with a lot of opportunities for having and maintaining a good image.
Imagination and vicarious pretensions
Teens may suffer from what is called an “imposter syndrome” due to which they think they imagine that they possess certain skills.
Not only that, teens get an opportunity to feel vicariously that they are like the great people they are following. But, when they realize that it is impracticable to be like those people and that they are different from what they think they are, they are saddened and this causes anxiety in them. Their realization of the fact that they have been pretending to be what they are not aggravates their problem of teen anxiety.
No space or time for themselves
Another problem with social media is that it is all pervasive and it has invaded the lives of everyone including teens so much that we do not get respite from them. Though these teens are able to make friends with a lot of people, they do not get space and time for themselves due to the all-pervasive nature of these sites. This intrusion itself is capable of causing teen anxiety.
Remaining connected and making friends on social networking sites may be good but despite having a number of contacts, these teens may feel lonely because they do not make friends directly or in the normal sense. They converse and chat but these chats or conversations are not accompanied by the normal body language or the emotions that they usually exhibit during face-to-face interactions. Further, if responses to posts do not come forth immediately, there may be frustration. On the other hand, conversing with people in person or over phone is real time and hence, teens can derive more enjoyment from these interactions.
As a parent, what should you do?
You must reduce your use of social media because you can inspire your teens to follow you only if you behave like a role model. In fact, children consider their parents as their first role models and hence, your action may trigger a suitable response from them.
You should trust your children and your teens should also know that you trust them. This helps in enhancing their self-esteem. You can also assist them in participating in things in which they have interest. In short, you should spend quality time with your children and allow them to ventilate their feelings. You should behave more like a friend than as an authoritative parent.