Social media can be a good thing when used occasionally and carefully. For example, it is nice to stay in contact with family and close friends who live across the country from your family. However, when social media becomes a big part of your child’s daily life, then it starts to mess with their head. It can negatively affect how they feel about themselves and their life. You may not even realise that this is happening. It is not healthy to know what everyone else is always up to, as it causes your child to compare themselves with them. They start asking questions like, “Why can’t I and do what Mary’s doing?”, “Mary’s parents let her!”, and so on.
What are a few of the signs and symptoms to watch for that indicate that social media is negatively impacting your child’s daily life?
* Increased stress, anxiety, or depression
* Increased frustration
* Comparing their life to others
* Thinking about comments others have made on social media, even when they are not on social media at the moment
* Comparing your self to others. Eating disorders can result.
* Inability to part with their phone or computer, because they have the fear of missing out on something
* Most of their relationships or social life exist only on social media. They spend more time on social media than they do with people in real life.
If you have noticed that your child’s use of social media causes them to experience any of the above, it is probably time to re-evaluate things and make some positive changes. In what follows, are methods that you can use to lessen the impact that social media has on lowering your child’s confidence levels, and causing disruption of their thoughts and actions.
* Begin by recording how much of their time is spent on social media.
How many times have you gone on Facebook to check one message, and you end up spending thirty minutes getting lost in some drama going on in someone else’s life? All this does is add to negative thoughts in your head… What if this is happening to your child? Therefore, you want to pay attention to how much time they are spending on social media. Remember that this is all time that you can never get back. Once time is spent, it’s gone forever!
* Next, place a limit on how much time they spend on social media.
Once you know how much time they are spending on social media, plan to decrease this time. You can do this slowly and gradually. You can set a time limit using the timer on your phone. When the timer goes off, you have to exit social media immediately. Eventually, you child may find that they are skipping a day, and then a week without using social media. Be sure to notice how much “new” time they have found in your life, and how much happier they are feeling.
* Put away the phone, computer, or Ipad when you are at home.
This will be very difficult at first. Expect that it will cause anxiety and stress when your child is unable to check their emails or comment on the posts of others. This is normal. Instead, plan to spend free and extra time doing something else you enjoy. Create special family times. For example, this may be a good opportunity to read a book, or you can go for a walk or organise some sort of exercise. What you are doing is replacing one habit (social media) with one that is more positive (reading, exercise).
* Minimize your child’s social contacts on social media.
Reevaluate those people your child has on their contact lists. If they make your child feel angry, sad, jealous, etc., then suggest to them that you wonder why they have them on their contact list in the first place? You might suggest to your child that they delete them, or minimize/hide the posts they share. If you might consider talking to your child about deactivating and closing their social media accounts altogether. Start gradually by encouraging your child to spend less and less time on social media, and then they might work up the strength and courage to close their accounts. Encourage your child to talk to their friends and family and let them know that they have decided to spend more time in the real world again, and that if they want to reach your child, they will have to do so using other methods. This might be something that you work through as a family, and discuss it as a way to improve the family well being.
Just notice those families traveling together on the train all on their iPhones totally ignoring one and other. Is this what we, as social beings are meant to do to one another??? Set a few boundaries in your family on the time spent on social media and watch the results.
let me know how you get on.