Social Media Low Self Esteem: How Is That
“Look, Social Media Low Self Esteem,” says Sasha, a 16-year-old high school student, slowly scrolling through the images on Instagram. “See? Pretty coffee, pretty girl, cute cat, trip to the beach. It’s all like that. Everybody seems to be having the best day of their life, all the time. “
Magazines and advertising have long been criticized for maintaining dangerously unrealistic standards of success and beauty, but they are at least recognized as idealized. Models wearing size zero clothing are just that: models. And they are even made up, arranged, retouched and digitally edited with Photoshop.
These days, however, impossible standards are set much closer to home, not by celebrities and models, but by classmates and friends. With social media, teens can edit their lives, and the resulting posts read like the most prominent images in a movie, showing only the best and most enviable moments, while hiding the efforts, difficulties, and merely ordinary aspects of everyday life. And there is evidence that those images are causing many children distress.
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Education doctor Donna Wick, founder of Mind-to-Mind Parenting, says that for teens the combined weight of vulnerability, the need for validation, and the desire to compare themselves to their friends, shapes what she describes as a “ perfect storm of low self-esteem ”. “She is so thin. Your notes are perfect. What a happy couple. I will never be so cool, so skinny, so lucky, so successful.
Sometimes, Sasha says, looking at messages from friends “makes you feel like everyone has everything under control except you.”
Fight to stay afloat
The negative consequences of these unrealistic standards become more dangerous once children reach college, where they face greater risks, harder work, and an environment largely without parents. The pressure to look perfect to impress new partners, let alone friends and family back home, can be even greater.
After a recent spate of college suicides, Stanford University researchers coined the phrase “duck syndrome.” The term refers to the way a duck seems to glide effortlessly through a pond, while below the surface its feet work frantically, invisibly struggling to stay afloat.
Several students who died had projected a perfect image on social media: Their posts contained inspiring quotes and filtered images that showed attractive, happy children who seemed to stand out with minimal effort. But behind the digital curtain they were having emotional difficulties.
Hide the imperfection
For children experiencing anxiety or depression, carefully edited walls can act like smoke screens, masking serious problems behind purported perfection and making it difficult for parents or friends to see that they need help. please take care because (Social Media Low Self Esteem).
“It’s important to remember that posting edited images on the Internet or pretending your life is a little more glamorous than it is is not in itself a problem,” says Jill Emanuele, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “Social media alone is unlikely to be at the center of the problem, but it can make a difficult situation worse.”
Teens who have created idealized characters on the Internet can become frustrated and depressed about the gap between who they pretend to be online and who they really are.
“If you pretend to be someone who you are not eight hours a day, it is more difficult to accept the less than perfect human being,” says Dr. Wick, “and as we all know, there is no more severe judge than a child with himself ”.
The perfection of others
Another more common problem, says Dr. Emanuele, is that for some teens their social media can become fuel for negative feelings about themselves. Children who have difficulties with low self-esteem read in the pictures of their friends what they feel is missing.
“Children see social media through the lens of their own lives,” says Dr. Emanuele. “If they are having a hard time keeping up with things or have low self-esteem, they are more likely to interpret images of peers having fun as confirmation that they are doing poorly, compared to their friends.
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Hard to resist but Really Social Media Low Self Esteem
Sasha and her friend Jacob, 15, agree that constant exposure to social media has had an impact on how they see themselves and their peers. “It’s like you know they’re not making you happy,” Jacob says of the photos his friends post on Instagram. “But you still look at them.”
Although you know that these images hide serious problems, this does not seem to relieve the pressure they exert.
“I knew a girl who had an eating disorder. We all knew it. It got so bad that she ended up going to a treatment center, but when she posted pictures of herself on the beach looking super skinny, everyone ‘liked’ her anyway, ”says Sasha.
“Of course,” she says, “I knew that the images were not current and that the girl was very ill, but that didn’t stop her from feeling a twinge of jealousy. I remember thinking ‘I wish I looked like this’ and then I was horrified by myself. “
Sasha also acknowledges the problem of “liking” images which in this case provided dangerous validation. “It is as if we are saying: Good job!”
Social Media Low Self Esteem: how to help?
What can parents do to help children develop a safe and reasonable relationship with social media before they are independent?
Dr. Wick says preventing teens from falling into the social media trap is more difficult than it sounds. “It’s not about taking the phone off or having a single conversation.” Says she: “Parents need to be diligent to make sure kids get a dose of reality and they need to model healthy behaviors.”
Take social media seriously. Don’t underestimate the role social media plays in the lives of teens, advises Dr. Wick. “The power of a visual image is so strong, it is disorienting.” Many teens, she says, never knew a world where social media didn’t exist, and for them the things that happen online – slights, breakups, likes, or negative comments – are very real. When you talk about social media, make sure you are really listening and be careful not to discount or minimize your teen’s experiences because in fact, Social Media Low Self Esteem.
Be sure to encourage them to think outside the box to cut out photos. When you talk to your child about social media, encourage him to explore the topic in a more critical way. A good way to start is to try asking him what he thinks has been cut or edited from his friends’ “perfect” pictures and why. That can lead to bigger questions. Do you think your friends are really the people who appear to be online? Are you? What is the purpose of posting a photo? How does getting a “like” feel good? Does looking at Social Media Low Self Esteem?
Model a healthy response to failure:
“Kids have to get the message that it’s okay to fail,” says Dr. Wick. “And not only is it okay to fail, but showing it is okay too.” If parents hide their own mistakes, children are less likely to feel good about anything less than success. “When things don’t go as planned or a project goes wrong, show your child how to accept it gracefully,” she adds. “Let the kids know that failure is part of how we learn to be successful, that it is nothing to be ashamed of, and let them see you get up and try again.”
Praise (and show) the effort. “Effort is something we should be proud of,” says Dr. Wick. “We don’t get tired of repeating this.” Parents should let children know that showing their work is commendable, not hidden. When your child has worked hard at something, praise their efforts regardless of the outcome. It is also helpful to examine how comfortable you are showing your own efforts, especially those that are not successful. Being proud and open about your own work is a powerful example for your child.
Take a “social media vacation.” If you are concerned that your child is too involved in social media, try taking a social vacation. “This means everyone,” says Dr. Wick. “If you’re asking your child to take a break, practice what you preach and commit to staying away from the media as well. It can be as difficult for parents to disconnect as it is for children. “
Social Media Low Self Esteem But, Trust the people, not the pictures. Finally, don’t rely on social media to see how your child is really doing. You can post smiling selfies throughout the day, but if you look unhappy or sound unhappy on the phone, don’t let it go unnoticed. Make sure he knows that it is safe to talk to you by encouraging him to share his feelings and supporting him when he does. Assure him that you are not disappointed and let him know that you are proud of him for doing it. “I’m so happy that you called. You seem to feel really overwhelmed, I am here and I love you. Let’s talk about this together. “
In the end, as a parent, you want your daughter to be happy and successful. But making sure she knows you love her and that you are proud of her just the way she is — unfiltered, unedited, imperfect — will help her develop the confidence she needs to accept herself and stay safe and healthy on her own.