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How social networks influence the self-image of adolescents and how to help them as parents

Social networks have become an important part of the lives of many people , especially adolescents. And it is that these platforms offer them a space in which they can show themselves to others, playing a little (or a lot) with reality to show the image they want.

We want to make it clear that social networks are not in themselves a bad thing. On the contrary, they can become a very interesting source of information and contact.

The bad thing happens when its use deviates from its main purpose to become a generator of damage to third parties or even to ourselves. And it is that social networks have an undeniable impact on the emotions of the youngest, as well as on their self-esteem and self-image. But how does it affect them and how to help them?

“There is a human being behind every tweet, blog and email. Remember it.”

-Chris Brogan-

The culture of the exhibition

Social networks are here to stay, and as much as we don’t like some of its aspects, there is very little we can do to change them.

But what we can do is understand them as well as possible and prepare our adolescents so that they can face any situation that they have to face.

Within social networks, one of the things that has gained great importance are the ‘ likes ‘, and it is for this reason that more and more adolescents are making more effort to generate and upload content that generates more and more ‘ likes ‘.

Likes and the impact on self-esteem

This need (which often becomes imperative) to get ‘ likes ‘ can become a real priority for adolescents, who sometimes come to feel that their value depends on the number of interactions they get on social networks and not of who they really are.

That is, through the ‘ likes ‘, to a large extent, they seek self-determination and approval and validation by others, to feel “loved and admired”.

It is like an “artificial source” of self-esteem; but precisely for this reason it is so important that they can cultivate a healthy and real self- esteem , which comes from within, from within, and not from external stimuli (which, moreover, do not depend on them).

a distorted image

What is shown on social networks is only a small, edited and very well chosen part of the experiences of its users.

But what we see on social networks can greatly influence the way we feel and how we perceive our lives based on the comparison.

And this becomes particularly common in the case of adolescents, who see how many ‘ influencers ‘ offer an image of themselves that can become what they long for.

And feeling that they cannot achieve that same image directly affects their self-esteem, and even their self-image (the image they form of themselves), seeing that they are not like those “ideal” people.

“In the past you were what you had, now you are what you share.”

-Godfried Boogaard-

What should we pay attention to?

As parents we must be very attentive to what happens in the lives of our children. This task is sometimes complex, mainly during adolescence.

But it is right there when we must be more careful , and be aware of them and the content they share and consume on their profiles on social networks.

But what should we pay attention to as parents? We offer some guidelines:

  • If you begin to notice signs of anxiety in your son or daughter or an excessive concern about their social networks, checking them and uploading content.
  • If you are constantly taking photos or videos to share it, even neglecting other aspects of your life.
  • Checking your phone or computer compulsively, even at inopportune times, even leaving out other people, conversations, or any in-person social interactions.
  • If you care a lot about how many ‘ likes you get or how many followers you have.
  • If you only talk about social networks or people you follow on them.
  • If, in addition to worrying about checking social networks, you begin to notice changes in their behavior .

what can we do as parents?

If you notice that your teenager is having self-esteem problems related to social networks, the first thing you should keep in mind is that social networks are not bad per se .

If you get upset and recriminate his behavior , trying to get him away from them, you will only achieve an adverse effect to what you want. So, what to do?

The importance of self-esteem and self-image

The first thing, work on your child’s self-esteem, and so that he can gradually acquire a realistic, positive and strong image of himself (self-image) (which is not so easy to modify or influence).

You can do this through positive reinforcement, for example, or by encouraging your child to find their own hobbies , discover what they like, etc. On the other hand, other strategies that can help you are:

Promote and take care of communication

Talk honestly and directly with your children about social media. Not being treated like children and including them in an adult conversation can be very helpful because they will feel taken into account.

Talk to them about the realities behind social networks and that what is shown on them almost never corresponds to the real life of these people.

Currently there are many people who have taken the trouble to show, with examples from their lives, the difference between what is shown on social networks and the reality behind them.

These types of accounts can be of great help to support you when having this conversation with your children. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words .

“How strange it is that young people always think that the world is against them when in fact it is the only time for them.”

-Mignon McLaughlin-

seek professional help

If you feel that your children have been negatively affected by their use of social networks, we recommend that you seek professional help.

In this sense, a psychologist or psychotherapist can help you better understand your child, acquire tools and develop strategies to help him.

If you feel that you cannot give him the help he needs, do not feel bad, you are not failing as a father or mother, on the contrary, you are doing an excellent job of taking responsibility for your abilities and opening yourself up to the possibility of growing and improving to make a difference. best work.

“Don’t say on the Net what you wouldn’t want to see displayed in a billboard with your face on it.”

-Erin Bury-

Always make your children aware of social networks so that they are responsible for what they do on these platforms; it is important that they can reflect on what they are looking for in them and how they relate to people and the world in this context.

Always remind them that real life is outside! And that they should take advantage of it, raise their eyes and look forward. That’s what really matters.

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