Social networks and the adolescent
As a teenager, there are many pressures to deal with. The social and academic pressures of school life, perhaps the stress of leaving one school for another, adjusting, being accepted and acceptable, studying, keeping the family happy with their progress, are all potentially stressful considerations.
Then, of course, there can be tensions at home, family worries, sibling problems, and the personal problems that often accompany adolescence; feeling different, insecure about yourself, comparing yourself to others, fear of missing something.
Social media is a natural part of life for many people and statistics are regularly reported on its use. Analysts say that we check our mobile phones every 12 minutes and spend an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes every day on the Internet, mainly on sites owned by Google and Facebook.
While it is valuable to be connected to the outside world, there are also worrisome aspects about the Internet and especially around social networks that cause concern regarding its influence on adolescents.
Social media can be a force for good or bad. Certainly, chat rooms and forums can be a great place for someone who is lonely and friendless, with no one to talk to about how they feel. Finding reassurance and answers to questions from people experiencing similar problems can prevent a teenager from feeling alienated, isolated, and alone.
It can also help us reach unexpected audiences, reach people we might never have been able to introduce ourselves to, and consequently your friends. We have the potential of social media to speak to a wide audience, a community of like-minded people.
But there are other aspects of social media that are not so optimistic. Some caution is necessary. Living in a virtual world where we constantly check our phones can persuade us that online is the real world, where the things we see and are told are the truth.
That is why it is important;
– Choose who to follow with caution and recognize what your agenda might be. Be alert to the dangers of being groomed by someone who is not who or what they say they are, it encourages you to do things that you are not comfortable with. Or maybe their goal is to become an influencer, they are allied with specific products, gradually introducing and recommending certain goods or services, courting new followers, and essentially executing sales pitches. Take a step back and see what is really going on.
– Remember that it is your call, you can unfollow if you want. If something no longer suits you or if you are not satisfied with what you watch regularly, you can choose to disconnect and stop it. And if posts appear that you don’t like, that distress you, negatively affect you or make you uncomfortable, trust your instincts and block them. It’s your device, your media stream; close the door and don’t let them in.
– Set a limit for your time online, and use that time more efficiently. Yes, you can see your family online as a real and key element of your life, relationships that are genuine and supportive. It’s the only place where you can be yourself and you need to keep that in your life, but real person-to-person relationships are important too. Increasingly, many people work, shop and manage their lives online, so they may have less and less reason to leave home. But relationships, learning to interact with others, developing social skills, understanding yourself better, all require a bit of movement away from devices and an engagement in face-to-face communications.
– Meet others in person and experiencing the spontaneity and diversity of life. Incorporate personal growth and development by accepting that sometimes things may not turn out so well. You can make mistakes, get rejected, look foolish. Okay, it’s part of life and an important way to evolve and mature as a person.
– Take charge and decide not to spread negativity and gossip on your social media. Commit to sharing only good news. You may think that one person alone can’t make much of a difference, but when each of us takes a stand, we can sprinkle sunlight on our little corner of the world. Be the person who shares positivity, good results, and happiness. Influence, perhaps in a small way, your social media, your world, your audience.
– Get out of your comfort zone. Join a class, a gym, a group. Visit the same places regularly and you will find yourself beginning to meet the same people. Get in the habit of putting in an effort, dressing better, having to show up promptly, a different set of skills required in modern offline life. Challenge yourself every day.
In the same way that you have found your place and been accepted online, remember to also keep an eye on the offline world and allow yourself to meet many of those people who share your concerns and insecurities equally. Observe how others behave together, learn some tips and advice, so that you learn different ways to contribute to conversations, improve your social skills, and develop a more confident approach in each area of life.