Self Esteem & Social Media
Let’s talk about self-esteem and how it can be affected for children and teens while using social media. Let’s first look at how do we define self-esteem? Self-esteem is defined as "a confidence and satisfaction in oneself: self-respect," according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. In the days of social media, self-esteem is shown to be decreasing among children and teens. Social media encourages this due to the use of social media to constantly compare yourself to others and often seeking compliments (or likes) from others. This is often done by posting selfies. Celebrities have also added to this epidemic by increasingly taking more selfies. DID YOU KNOW? The average person takes 5-7 selfies before they post one picture and the average celebrity takes 15-20 selfies before they post one picture!!! Then there are the filters, to change lighting or touch up makeup as well as apps you can use for more drastic procedures like changing your bone structure, slimming your waistline, erasing pimples, etc. I even practiced this myself and found it interesting that I could slim my face and brighten it to lessen the wrinkles with just the editing tools on my cellphone camera app. So, how realistic is this? What affect will this have on the average American teenager?
I found a survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health that asked 14-24 year olds in the UK how social media platforms impacted their health and well-being. The survey results found that Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all led to increased feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image and loneliness.
So why should children and teens worry about self-esteem? Here are some benefits to having high self-esteem:
· You don’t waste your time thinking about the things that you can’t do but focus more on the things that you can do.
· You can freely express your needs and ideas.
· You have confidence that you can make right decisions.
· You can handle stressful situations and can adapt well to unfamiliar circumstances.
· You are less prone to develop mental health conditions.
· You have more happiness and enjoyment in life and that will result in more worthwhile and meaningful life.
· You will have a healthier and better lifestyle that will give you more confidence.
· You will have more success in life.
· You will have more peace of mind.
· You will have more enjoyable social interactions.
How can I increase my self-esteem?
Some ways to increase your self-esteem can include practicing positive affirmations such as telling yourself "I can do it," "I am pretty," "I will do better next time," and so on. Check out my resource page for a list of positive affirmations. Another way to improve self-esteem is to work hard at school and in your personal endeavors. Find things you care about and practice doing them such as volunteering. Another way to increase self-esteem can be to take a personal interest in something and practicing it such as sports, music, art, etc. Children and teens can be more mindful about how you use your phones including making a plan for what you’re going to do on social media as well as including not being afraid to unfollow and/or unfriend someone.
How can be more mindful when I am using social media? Here are some questions you can ask yourself before and while using social media:
Why am I picking up my phone or tablet, etc.? How long will I be using social media? What do I want to see? While you are using social media, observe how it makes you feel. Be ready to put it down if it starts making you feel bad (sad, angry, jealous, etc.). Think about what emotional state are you in when you are using social media? Are you anxious? Picking up that phone to check to see what’s on social media is probably going to heighten that anxiety. The same with sadness. It’s just going to make it worse.
I hope you found this helpful. My hope is that teens reading this article will be more mindful of their social media habits. Parents can also use this blog to initiate talks with their kids about their self-esteem and their social media habits. If there is a concern with self-esteem or the possibility of your child developing a mental health disorder, reach out to a counselor.