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7 Tips to Help Your Teen Build Healthier Social Media Habits

Most parents can agree that technology looks a lot different now than it did when they were growing up. Pre-teens’ and teens’ social media usage has dramatically increased over the last decade, and it’s no surprise that there is growing concern about the frequency with which children are using social media and the degree to which it is affecting them.


These are understandable concerns. Before exploring ways to protect your children from the negative effects of social media, let’s take a deeper look at both the pros and cons of social media use in pre-teen - and teen-age groups.




Despite popular belief, there are benefits to social media use among adolescents.


Expression & Identity

Access to social media allows pre-teens and teens not only to begin to form their sense of identity but also to express themselves freely. Social media platforms allow them to be heard.


Friendship

Social media does not discriminate based on location. Just about everyone in the world — with a few countries excluded — has access to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other popular social media platforms. Your teen can form connections and friendships with like-minded people from all over the world which is important for their social development.



Online Communities

There are many children with specific medical or developmental needs and online communities of individuals facing similar challenges can provide much-needed camaraderie and support.


Entertainment

We all know social media is filled with hilarious videos, music, and more. When absorbed in moderation, this type of entertainment can give pre-teens and teenagers a bit of a brain break.


Education

Social media is filled with experts, business owners, coaches, and professionals sharing valuable information on just about every subject there is — such as fitness, sports, meditation, and careers! This is a great way for adolescents to learn without it feeling like school.


Knowing the downsides of teenage social media use is critical to setting meaningful and manageable boundaries.


Higher Levels of Anxiety & Depression

Unfortunately, it has been reported that higher levels of social media use among pre-teens and teens are linked with greater symptoms of depression and anxiety.


Disrupts Sleep

Staring at a bright screen, especially in the dark, is unhealthy for our eyes and brain. Many teens (and adults, too) look at their phones until the point of fully falling asleep, resulting in poor sleep quality.


Exposure to Bullying

Bullies get to hide behind a screen on social media, making the Internet an easy place for them to spread rumors and gossip about others.



Exposure to Predators

Again, anyone can hide behind a screen on the Internet. It’s difficult to think about, but social media is filled with predators, ‘catfish,’ and other individuals with horrible intentions. Everyone who exists on social media is at risk of coming into contact with online predators; pre-teens and teens are at even greater risk due to their maturity and developmental levels.


Unrealistic Views of Life

Many people on social media post the only good things — the picture-perfect vacations, the toned bodies, and academic achievements. We don’t see a lot of real life and its imperfections on social media. Because of this, adolescents can develop a distorted view of the world and themselves.


Disconnected from Nature & the Real World

Spending so much time on a screen can limit your teens' connection to what really matters. — think of things such as nature, face-to-face interaction, and experiencing life away from the phone.

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