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3 Ways To Protect Children From The Dark Side Of Social Media

dark side of social media

Assist a child in understanding that the people who constantly need accolades and attention may be compensating for deep and profound unhappiness. Social media only represents a picture of the surface, but rarely goes much deeper.

Another developmental phenomenon in the teen years, which may create an “Achilles heel” with social media, involves the child’s identity. New independence in the teen years requires a young person to make a multitude of decisions a day about who she is and who she wants to be in the world, from how she wants to dress, to whom she wants as friends, to what music she likes.

Related: Does Social Media Increase Teen Depression? This Is What Research Says

This developmental phase is often exciting but also overwhelming and taxing. It is often referred to as identity formation. Because a child’s sense of self is “under construction,” it may be vulnerable to the negative effects of social media.

A third way a parent can help a child in this developmental plight is to be proactive. Due to the superficial nature of social media, it may be necessary to help a child consolidate her self-esteem early. Instead of affirming the child’s achievements and physical appearance, a parent may remember to validate her deeper capacities.

Thoughtfulness, selflessness, humility, effort, empathy, kindness, and conscientiousness are qualities that exemplify strong character. A parent’s focus on these qualities may help the child value who she is instead of what she does.

A child who feels as if she is only as good as her next achievement may have a shaky sense of self. Her self-worth may depend on outside validation and the “win,” causing her world to crash if she is not perfect. A parent who reflects and validates a child’s empathy as she walks through life is a parent who offers the childproof of who she is.

Simply telling a child she is smart and pretty in a mirror may not work. Catching a child in an actual act of kindness, empathy, and selflessness as she travels through life means a parent is paying attention and offers evidence to the child that she is a good and worthwhile person.

The child may be more apt to believe a parent who routinely recognizes the beauty of her heart. This strong sense of self may buffer her from the negative impact of social media.

Social media is not going away and many kids use it to stay connected with each other in positive ways, but the negative side effects can impact a child’s mental health. A recap of the three parental interventions detailed above may help.

Related: The 3 Negative Effects Of Social Media On Our Life

First, ensure she maintains multiple close friendships in various areas of her life. Second, educate her on social media’s superficial nature. Third, strengthen her character by reflecting her deeper capacities as she moves through life. Helping a child shoulder the burden of social media may protect her and keep her safe.

Written By Erin Leonard 
Originally Appeared On Psychology Today 

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3 Ways To Protect Children From The Dark Side Of Social Media
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Dr. Erin Leonard, Ph.D.

Dr. Erin Leonard, Ph.D. is an award-winning researcher, author, and psychotherapist. For more than 20 years, she has helped her clients recover their well-being and improve their mental health. With years of training and a clear understanding of what goes into providing a compassionate approach to psychotherapy, Dr. Leonard provides unique counseling and therapeutic services in the Michiana area. Her extensive training and wealth of experience ensure her clients experience improvement quickly Dr. Leonard specializes in individual, couples, and family therapy. However, her practice is a safe and open space for anyone with the need to be heard, understood, and treated.View Author posts