Currently, many parents and carers worry about the impacts of social media on the children and young people in their care. Younger people, especially, are heavily influenced by the world around them; so, what does this mean when they spend hours at a time on their iPads, laptops, and mobile phones?
Adolescence and young adults are in a period of extreme development, both emotionally and physically, and technology plays a large role in how they develop. Experts are now concerned that social media, text messaging and general use of the internet could be the reason a lot of teenagers and young people are experiencing anxiety and low self-esteem. Which leads us to ask ‘does social media affect teenagers?’
In a survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health, studies showed that the likes of Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram all lead to people under the age of 21 feeling anxious, depressed and lonely. What else do we need to know, what should we be looking out for, and is social media affecting teens?
Teenagers, especially, are brilliant at keeping themselves entertained, and none of them are strangers to staying up late at night. Recently, it seems to be more and more common for teenagers and young people to be online in their spare time, whether that be texting, scrolling or sharing things, all from their fingertips.
Before the likes of online messaging, people would communicate face to face, or over the phone – and could escape from other people as and when they needed to. Now, children and young people find it very difficult to ‘switch off’ and very rarely are able to take a break from communication. As you can imagine, this can be quite overwhelming for young people, especially when they don’t feel as though they can escape.
How does this impact self-esteem?
As we grow up, we are learning to navigate the world around us, and we should be allowed to make mistakes; especially when we are young. Social media makes it very easy for children and young people to think mistakes don’t happen to anyone else but themselves; and this is where problems arise.
Children and teenagers constantly being able to see their idea of ‘perfection,’ and the illusion of a perfect life isn’t a healthy way for them to navigate their way through childhood and early adulthood. Seeing heavily edited and staged photos can make them notice their imperfections even more and, as a result, give them low-self-esteem from an early age.
What should parents and carers do to help?
This might all seem hopeless, or you might be wondering what you can do to help the children in your care. Fear not, there are a few things you can do to help minimise the risks that are associated with social media usage.
• First and foremost, it is essential that you set a good example to the children around you, by demonstrating a healthy social media usage. If the children and young people around you see you scrolling through Instagram for hours, they are likely to do the same. By setting yourself strict guidelines for how much you use social media, your children and young people will indirectly copy you.
• Along with this, it is extremely important that you make them aware that you are available to talk to, whenever they may need you. If they spend a lot of time on social media, they may be exposed to images that upset them; you need to make sure they feel comfortable enough to ask questions as and when they arise.
There are plenty of ways children and young people can disconnect and get to know the world, offline. Some of the best advice is to help them find a passion, away from social media; be that a sport, a hobby or learning something new. By doing this, that low self-esteem they may have been developing could turn into self-confidence instead and send them on their way to become both physically and mentally healthy young adults.
If you have any more concerns or questions regarding a child you’re caring for, or you are looking to become a foster carer, please get in touch with us on 0800 566 8317 or alternatively you can request a digital brochure today.