In an age where 90% of children are using social media, it is important to understand children’s mental health and self-worth can be affected. This guide will help you to understand the relationship between social media and children’s mental health and give you tips on how you can help your child maintain their self-worth.
When we’re constantly comparing ourselves to people online, maintaining our self-worth can be a challenge. Instead of believing everyone is inherently valuable, loveable, and deserving of respect, social media encourages us to focus on external, superficial measures of self-worth. Children and teenagers harshly criticize themselves when they don’t feel like they measure up to the filtered, edited version of other people — which negatively impacts how they view themselves.
According to pre-pandemic research on the usage of digital devices, 80% of parents say their children — as young as five years old — interact with a tablet computer, while 63% say the same of smartphones. And given the social distancing regulations, it’s likely that these numbers have further increased since 2020. While digital devices — specifically social media — allow children to discover what is going on in the world, parental fears about the effects of screen time are not entirely unfounded.
Here are three ways you can help your child maintain their self-worth in a social media age:
Every person has an inner critic, who is more familiar to us as the nagging voice in our heads. Sometimes, our inner critic tells us we’re not good enough or no one likes us — messages that can be fueled by what they see on social media. Children are prone to comparing themselves to others online, and they take their “flaws” to heart. The best thing you can do is to teach your children how to challenge that inner critic, and avoid criticizing them yourself.
We mentioned this in our article on helping teenagers through divorce, but it deserves reiteration: parents should make time to listen to their child. Instead of lecturing them, listening to your child is more productive. Avoid giving negative comments, and offer your child guidance in an understanding way.
Social media tends to paint a picture that everyone has a perfectly happy family life, but that’s not true. This skewed version of reality can be especially damaging for children of divorced parents, who are more likely to have mental health problems if there is strong interpersonal conflict between their parents. Therapy can be beneficial for building up a child’s sense of self-worth and security.
Talking to a therapist can help because professionals with psychology qualifications are trained in modern psychology theory. This means they can provide a comprehensive approach to mental and behavioral healthcare for individuals and families. They can talk about serious topics without judgment so your child feels supported, and show them techniques for managing what they think while scrolling online.
Although social influencers on social media are now using their platform to bring awareness about mental health and promote self-love, letting your child have a “detox” period is a good way to keep the unfavorable impact of social media at bay.
You don’t have to ban them from using their favorite apps, but you can encourage them to take breaks and increase real-life interactions with friends and family. Set technology-free hours for everyday, or ask your child to purposefully connect with friends on messaging apps, rather than passively scrolling through their feed.
Technology can be tricky to navigate without proper boundaries, but they are also great tools for clear communication. Our DComply co-parenting app can help divorced parents manage childcare expenses to keep things smooth for your kids. Check out our app today to learn more.