With the rise of social media platforms, it is impossible to ignore the cultural shift in the way we communicate, share and interact. One of the major concerns that have emerged in recent years regarding social media is its impact on young people’s self-esteem. There is no doubt that social media has a significant influence on teens’ perception of themselves, and the effects can have both positive and negative impacts.
It is not hard to imagine that social media has a significant impact on teens’ self-esteem, given that they are at a formative stage in their lives and are in the midst of defining their identity. Social media platforms provide an avenue for teenagers to express themselves and connect with their peers, which is particularly important for those struggling with loneliness, social anxiety and feeling disconnected. Social media provides a platform for teens to express themselves, brainstorm ideas, and share their creativity, which can promote self-esteem and a sense of belonging. The sense of feeling connected and validated by peers can boost one’s self-esteem.
However, social media use can also lead to negative effects on teens’ self-esteem. Teens may experience anxiety and stress when they see their peers posting ‘perfect’ lives, pictures of glamorous clothing, happening parties, and modelling professional level or stunning photographs. They may become overly obsessed with their outward appearance and the need to portray a perfect self-image so they can attract more likes, followers, and comments. Comparing themselves to their peers on social media can also increase feelings of inadequacy, especially if they perceive their peers to be better-looking, more successful or happier than they are. These negative effects can be made worse by the fact that teens often use social media right before bed, as they are more susceptible to feelings of insecurity and anxiety late at night.
To help teenagers build healthy self-esteem, it is imperative that parents and caregivers actively monitor teens’ use of social media and engage in conversational dialogue with them that pertains to their sense of self-worth. Parents and caregivers should:
-Reinforce the idea that social media is not a true reflection of one’s reality and bright side of life, and is often distorted in nature.
-Teach teens to validate themselves based on their accomplishments, personal strengths and unique qualities, and not on how many likes, comments and shares their social media posts receive.
-Monitor usage of social media, observing negative behaviours and patterns and intervening if necessary.
-Promote offline activities, such as sports, clubs, volunteering or hobbies, which would foster self-esteem, social development and skill building.
In conclusion, social media has a huge impact on teenagers’ self-esteem that can be both positive and negative. While it provides opportunities for self-expression, creativity, and social connectivity, it also contains many aspects that are toxic and damaging. To help teenagers build healthy self-esteem, it is imperative that parents and caregivers actively monitor teens’ use of social media, helping them to build a positive sense of self-worth, both online and offline, and helping them to develop their unique personal qualities, interests and goals.