Children’s access to social media puts learning about life on steroids

Today’s parents are under constant fire. They need to be on their toes at all times.

Their parents and grandparents lived in very different times when children had a much slower introduction and assimilation into socializing with their peers. In those days, the parents were the biggest influence on the child for many years.

Peer socialization used to be face-to-face interactions

Families confined their children’s socialization experiences to interactions with relatives, neighborhood kids or school classmates. Today teenage social media bombards young people with an avalanche of information.

Teens have endless opportunities to interact with others. They may never meet many of their social media contacts. Social media exposes children to all types of content.

There are lots of positive effects of teenage social media:

• They can cultivate strong friendships.
• They get to meet lots of people all over the world.
• Healthy culture information exchanges may dispel misunderstandings between people.
• They can learn about any topic they are interested in.
• It inspires ideas to help others as they learn about the community and worldwide needs.
• They can learn to work together in a group to achieve a mutual goal.
• Many make their own videos, start podcasts, or other projects where they can try out their creativity and skills in music, writing, art, business ideas, and much more.
• Help and support are available for their health issues, addictions, or anything else.

How can children know what is true and what is false?

They do not have a mature reference point with which to recognize the dangers of social media. Parental guidance is extremely important. Discerning true information from false information requires experience and critical thinking.

Teens are trying so hard to fit in and their inexperience may cloud their judgment. With such a strong desire, it is easy for them to be “taken in” or deceived.

A nurturing and trusting parent/child relationship is more important than ever.

Social media can be a great tool to help foster a healthy parent/child relationship. If a parent and teen already have a close relationship, conversations about social media should start and flow easily.

If your relationship needs a little work, watch for opportunities where you can open a friendly conversation. Sitting around the dinner table together might be a great time. Honesty, authenticity, and showing interest in your teen will go a long way in building or strengthening a foundation of trust.

What is fake teen social media?

These are teen posts that give false and misleading information about themselves to impress their peers. They want to stand out and be admired. These posts show photos that may or may not really be photos of themselves. The fake posts either exaggerate a real-life experience or simply make the whole thing up.

These posts get attention from other teens, and the one who made the post revels in their admiration in the form of comments, likes, shares, friend requests, and invites.

Keep up-to-date knowledge of teenage social media.

Learn some unexpected ways that teens are accessing and using social media.

So what is the harm?

Teens who are already having self-image and self-esteem issues may feel threatened and demoralized. They compare themselves and their lives to those fake posts. They view their ordinary life as sad and even hopeless.

To an impressionable teen, these social posts are triggers that stimulate greater doubt and discouragement of their own self-image. They cannot imagine that anything that good or exciting will ever happen in their life. It may make them feel terrible.

Why does social media impact teens so much?

Digital media is the only world that today’s teens know. They have grown up alongside digital devices.

They have been there and witnessed you and others get information and use that information countless times. You appear to trust the information. They have no reason to suspect the information is not true. After all, you use it every day.

You get your news on the internet, you use it for shopping, you share photos, you get tickets for events, you even do your banking online. What could be more trusted and useful than the internet?

Observe your teenager for any signs that may indicate they are having anxiety.

Pay attention to unusual mood and behavior changes. Those changes may just be part of a teen’s normal development process, but notice if the behaviors seem to be initiated by their phone use.

According to the Harvard Graduate School of Education, social media anxiety does impact teens’ mental health. Experts say that parents need to take the time to listen to their teen.

Parents should observe their behaviors and tune in to their teens so that they are aware when something is troubling them. Here are some signs of distress to watch for:

• Are they starting to avoid personal offline contact and activities they used to enjoy?
• Do they become super moody and upset over routine responsibilities such as household chores or doing their homework?
• Have their grades dropped?
• Have they stopped completing school assignments?
• Do they seem distracted and are they unwilling or unable to interact with others?
• Do they look down at their phone to avoid personal interactions? This is called phubbing.
• Does attention to their phone interfere with their close relationships?

Start as early as possible.

No matter how old your child is, build that trust now. Become that rock. Become a foundation where they can always get help to sort out the truth and the support that will make them feel good.

Make sure you are consistently the one they can always count on. Try not to come across as lecturing or talking down to them. Never belittle them. You are a trusted advisor. Show them examples of fake information on the internet that you have come across.

Encourage them to share an example of a post that makes them feel anxious, nervous or scared. Help them walk through critical thinking to analyze the post.

How can a parent help their teen discern fake from fact?

Encourage your teen to ask questions about the post such as:
• Does this information seem to line up with what you already know and make sense?
• Is it logical?
• Does the information seem to be exaggerated?
• Why would someone post an exaggeration or false information?
• What are the “feel good” rewards that a person gets from that post?

Can a parent help their teen notice how social media affects them?

In a conversation ask them to notice their mood changes. Encourage your teen to share how social media exchanges makes then feel.

What if the information posted is true?

This is a great opportunity to find out how your teen feels about someone else’s achievement. Does it inspire them or does it discourage them?

Use it as a bridge to explore things your teen might do to develop or enhance their own skills and abilities. Help them think about steps they could take to reach their goals. Remind them how they worked hard on a project and finished it.

Talk about differences in people and how everyone has unique interests and abilities. Share one of your own experiences and how you learned from it and got through a tough situation.

Nothing fuels the fire for math than discovering you can be a math genius! If you’re not sure Abacus will help your child, sign up for a free preview of our class – there’s no obligation to register! Come meet with us, watch some kids in action, calculating at the speed of light! We guarantee you will have fun watching these little geniuses.

About JAMS

JAMS is proud to be the only Abacus math school in Portland and in the State of Oregon certified by the League of Soroban of Americas. Since 2001, we have dedicated to Abacus & Anzan instruction and to building a strong foundation of Mental Mathematics along with lifelong skills. JAMS empowers children to achieve academic success, so they will grow in areas that go well beyond the classroom. JAMS parents can expect their child to improve in 5 different areas: concentration, discipline, problem-solving, time management, and confidence.  This is the teaching approach at JAMS since opening its doors.