Social media and teens seem to be inseparable in our digital age.
Of course, that doesn’t mean teens are the only ones making use of online networks. Many adults are also very active on social media. And the online influence is ever-increasing.
In general, though, it’s the younger generation—particularly adolescents—who have integrated cell phones and internet access into their social experience to the greatest extent.
While teens certainly thrive on feeling connected to their peers, constantly being plugged in to social media can have potentially adverse effects. And it’s that online stress which all too often leads to emotional overwhelm—frustration, anxiety, depression and even full-blown meltdowns.
Social media can expose teens to hostility—mean and cruel remarks, harassment, public shaming, humiliation, etc.—and pressures related to dealing with closeness in relationships, comparisons, and feelings of loneliness and inadequacies.
How can teens successfully handle this overwhelm?
Beating Online Stress and Avoiding Anxiety & Depression Symptoms That Can Be Caused by Social Media Meltdowns
Here are four of the simplest ways to beat online stress.
1. Manage Social Media Use
One of the most prominent things on teens’ phone screens is no doubt social media apps. There may be anything from texting and video/photo-sharing apps to chatting and dating apps.
A cluttered interface can feel overwhelming, so limiting the number of apps and sticking to only those most used to communicate with people can be a first step to reducing online stress. Also, moving social media apps off the home screen can help reduce the urge to want to open them all the time because it adds an extra step.
A similar idea is putting the phone on silent (not even vibrate!). The lack of hearing or feeling when a new notification comes in can also alleviate the temptation to check social media accounts.
2. Limit Time Spent Online
Just as crucial as managing the number of apps and curbing access to social media is limiting the time spent online. The extent of the confines depends on a teen’s need and self-discipline.
Some may do quite well with setting a schedule for specific times of the day to check on social media and keeping interactions to a pre-set time limit. Others may be able to take a much bolder break from online activities, setting the phone on silent and staying offline for a whole day, perhaps.
In any case, limiting online activities can open up time for many other things (hobbies, in-person socializing, etc.) and provide a break from stress.
3. Be an Analytical User
It’s during the teenage years when analytical abilities develop more fully. A teen’s brain tends to look at many things in different ways than it did as a young child. That’s part of developing a personal identity for adulthood.
Putting this blossoming critical thinking ability to work when socializing online is a meaningful way to ward off stress, especially when viewing other people’s photos and accomplishments. It’s important to remember that what’s portrayed usually represents a highlight reel of that person’s life. It certainly isn’t typical of anyone’s daily activities.
4. Communicate About Online Stressors
Many teens are not necessarily keen on communicating with their parents. That carries over into talking about social media stress as well. But one of the best ways to beat the online stress is to talk out issues that come up with someone who can give objective feedback.
When parents are willing to listen without judgment and keep the lines of communication open, they can provide a way for their teens to counteract any stress they’re feeling from social media. Be that discussing how to handle harassment, interpersonal frustration, or feeling inadequate. Most teens actually feel secure and calm when backed by an experienced adult.
While social media can contribute to happiness, it also brings a lot of stress for teens. More than some parents perhaps realize.
But applying the four simple strategies mentioned above can help counteract online pressures that could potentially lead to a social media meltdown. The next step is getting your teen on board to give them a try!
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The teen years are already tough, and now with the added stress that can come from social media, checking in on your teen’s mental health is of greater importance than ever. If you’ve tried the above tips, and there’s no change in your teen’s feeling of overwhelm, especially if you see anxiety symptoms or signs of teen depression, it’s likely time for professional help from a teen counselor. And if you decide your teenager needs counseling services in Columbus, Ohio from a local, skilled counseling practice, please contact Blue Boat Counseling today. We’d love to help!