Teenagers are having a popularity contest on social media. While teens used to compare their appearance to their classmates, there’s much more to compare now because of the connection teens have to people around the globe. Social media has opened up a slew of measures of popularity, and it’s causing stress and anxiety for everyone involved.
About Social Media’s Impact on Teens and Popularity
Teenagers use social media for more than just keeping up with friends; they use it to gauge how popular they are. When they post images and posts, they want others to like them, comment, and even share. It’s not simply about interacting with people, but it’s the emotions and sense of self-worth that’s connected to those interactions. When some teens do not get a satisfactory number of likes, comments, and shares, they immediately feel as though they are not good enough – not popular. They look at their friends’ posts and if they have more likes/comments/shares, they become jealous and maybe even depressed because they haven’t achieved the same popularity.
The same goes for followers. Twitter, Snapchat, and Music.ly are some of the most popular among teens, and part of the fun is getting people to follow them. The more followers they have because of their posts, the better they feel about themselves. You may have even heard your teen discuss stats of their tweets and Music.lys with their friends. There’s a competition there, and the losses can be devastating to the self-esteem of many teens.
It can go deeper than just likes, comments, shares, and followers, there’s also a phenomenon called FOMO (fear of missing out). Teenagers who are dealing with FOMO are glued to their mobile devices browsing their feeds constantly because they are afraid of missing something. When they do miss something, they become highly agitated and jealous. This is especially true when they see a group of their friends do something without inviting them. Sometimes, this sends them into a downward spiral of feeling not good enough and then trying to pinpoint what it is about them that makes people not want to invite them. This can cause them to change their attitude and behaviors, which can cause a lot of problems at home and school.
How to Help Your Teen
Communication can help with social media pressure. Many teens will voice frustrations concerning their friends on social media. The best thing to do is try to take their focus off the self-worth they place on their social media activities. Remind them that they have so many other things to be proud of and that those things mean much more than social media activities. This can help divert their obsession with what is going on in social networks.
As you divert their attention away from social media, continue to remind them about other areas of their life that they excel in every single day. Many teens forget that when they are tangled up in the social media popularity contest. Guiding, supporting, and comforting are the best things you can do as a parent of a teen in the 21st century.
We work with teens every day helping them see they are special and unique. Learn more about our troubled teen programs here.