Smartphone Saturation and Social Media
If you’ve walked across any high school campus in America, you’ve seen students congregating in large groups, small groups, with one other person or alone. They are usually browsing social media.
The majority of these students, in groups or alone, have one thing in common – a smartphone – in use to text, send photos, stream video often with the person sitting right next to them. Their smartphone is connecting them to the world, which is an amazing thing if used wisely.
So, with all this connectedness, why is it that loneliness is prevalent among our teens on and off high school campuses?
Two Familiar Scenarios
A lonely high school boy spends hours collecting as many friends as he can on Instagram in hopes that they will increase the number of likes he gets when he posts. Feeling insecure, he craves attention and a feeling of importance – that people care.
A lonely teenage girl spends hours on an anonymous chat site, desperate to find authentic relationships only to be disappointed with fake identities and an invasion of her privacy.
Further, there has been a rise in counseling sessions for girls, with many claiming that the harmful effects of social media and comparing themselves to others online made them feel increasingly isolated.
The consumption of social media makes teens more prone to mental health related issues such as isolation and depression. A teen’s dependency on likes, invisible friends, fake identities and feeling like no one cares leads to loneliness, avoiding real life problems, decreased interest in family, friends and school, stress and addiction.
Connectedness or Isolation
While technology celebrates connectedness it, in fact, encourages isolation. Teens may feel resentment toward peers who tout their accomplishments, real or imagined. They may be emotionally or socially unable to break down social networking barriers leaving them feeling helpless or, worse, hopeless.
How Can Parents Help?
How can a parent help their teen? First, loneliness needs to be taken seriously because it is potentially damaging to a teen’s physical and mental health. Teens have grown up on social media and social media will continue to be a part of their lives. Try watching one of Digital Citizen Academy’s amazing webinars where Dr. Lisa talks about handling these hard topics.
Educate, Encourage, Empower Your Teen about Social Media
It is crucial to a healthy lifestyle to teach teens about the Internet, online safety and how to consume social media responsibly. Encouraging open and honest communication about the stark realities of the dark side of social media – cyberbullying, addictive use, trolling, fake news, and privacy abuse will educate, encourage and empower your teen!