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Girls Use Social Media to Build Up, Break Down Self-Image

Technology has brought many benefits but there are some serious drawbacks. A CNN report on how girls use social media sheds light on the serious emotional and social impact of these platforms. U.S. teens spend about nine hours daily using media, and this only includes media used for enjoyment purposes.

The level of profanity and prurient content shared by 8th graders on social media is troubling.  Fifteen percent of the teens receive inappropriate photos and texts. Teens also use social media as a way to monitor their own popularity, which leads to compulsive checking. Overall social media use, and especially nighttime use, was associated with poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem, and higher levels of anxiety and depression among 12- to 18-year-olds, according researchers.

Another risk is that social media usage often leads to a sedentary lifestyle. Children spend more than 60 percent of their waking day sedentary. There were some benefits reported, however, like connecting with friends, feeling affirmed and supported, and exercising positive leadership.

Banning your child from electronic media is probably not an option, so how can you find a happy medium that allows your child to connect with friends without damaging effects to his or her self-esteem, sleep schedule, or grades? For starters, become familiar with the social media platforms your child is using. When you find yourself checking to see if your Facebook post was "liked" by your friends, you'll begin to understand how all-consuming it can become for a teen.

Parents may also want to establish an "electronic curfew" for their children and teens to prevent social media usage from interfering with quality sleep or interrupting important activities like family meals and homework. Also, encourage teens to put down their phones and engage in other activities often, and to keep social media in perspective.

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