Social media for teens: The pros and cons

Oh, social media. You tricky world. The days of reading the cereal box when you were bored are history. Scrolling and liking are what it’s all about these days.

But what about your child? How young is too young to let your child enter the realm of social media? How do you monitor your teen’s social media use? Let’s look at the pros and cons of social media use for teens.

The good

The truth is, it doesn’t always have to negatively impact teens. Sometimes, social media boosts self-esteem – even if that sounds odd. And there are many other benefits for your teen to be on it as long as they are monitored:

  • School help
  • Learning technology
  • Promotes creativity
  • Let’s them connect with people all over the world
  • Stay in touch with friends and family

Now, if you struggle with helping your teenager with their chemistry homework, you are in luck. There is probably a Facebook group or group chat that you can send them to for help. Long gone are the days of panicking when your teen says they are having trouble with a subject. There’s an app for that now.

Technology isn’t a lot of people’s strong suit. These young kids have it figured out in a minute. Updates, new apps, and new tools are learned in a blink. Whenever you need a tv remote fixed, a phone reset, or an app downloaded, you always go to the nearest teenager. It’s the law.

Creativity has flourished with social media. Getting the most unique picture posted, the catchiest headline, or the most tags has made these teens really use their brains. The way these teens are shooting their own movies, and finding insane ways to get a good picture (safely) is amazing.

Social media isn’t only for a pretty picture. It lets us make friends all over the world. The fact that more people today can communicate with people in other countries is extremely beneficial. Teens are helping us become more tolerant of other cultures. Teens are learning more about the world than ever. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

Moving away from family has never been easier thanks to social media. Now you can FaceTime Grandma whenever you want to, and Grandpa can leave you a mushy Facebook post whenever he wants. Staying in touch with friends and family that have moved is no problem.

The bad

With the good comes the bad. Social media needs to be regulated with teens. There are too many things that can go wrong if left unattended.

  • Pressure, so much pressure on social media
  • Bullies are more abundant
  • The wrong people could find you
  • They can become obsessed
  • False images are everywhere

Unfortunately, social media can often play a huge part in low self-esteem and body image, even if the opposite can be possible through several ways. The edited photos and constant filters can make it look like everyone else is perfect except for them. Unless you talk to your teen about editing and filtering, they might feel like they are the only ones who have things like acne and cellulite.

Cyberbullies are horrible. Anyone can be a bully online anonymously and quite easily. The fact that people don’t have to leave their couch to harass someone is dangerous. Talk to your teens about online trolls and bullies and why their opinions of anyone don’t and shouldn’t count for anything.

Cyber safety is huge. It’s the most important. From making sure your teens don’t give out private information, pictures, or get caught up in talking to someone online who isn’t who they say, you have a lot of work as a parent with online safety. There are classes teens can take at libraries, schools, and youth clubs that go over online safety. Parents should take these classes as well to know what to look out for.

We are all obsessed with our phones. Thanks, Apple. Your phone is in your pocket, and thanks to those fun little pop sockets, it’s easier to keep your phone in your hand (and not falling onto your face) all of the time.

Adults know how hard it is to put the phone down. Make electronic-free times at home. Stress the importance of remembering what books are and how to talk to your family in real life.

Everyone lies online. Whether about where they went on vacation or how much they spent on an item, we all lie. It’s easy to lie online. Remind your teens again about editing and photoshop. No one is like that all of the time in person.

Teenager lying down using social media
Dan Kenyon/Getty Images

It doesn’t have to be ugly

Don’t discredit social media, though. There are more famous kids on YouTube than you can count. So talking about social media and teenage careers isn’t something you should say no to. If your child has a real talent, social media can be the best way to get noticed quickly, and without all of the hoops the entertainment industry usually has.

Social media can be a good thing if ground rules are set. Just like having the birds and the bees talk, the social media talk should be had before you give your kid their first phone or laptop.

Turn on the find my phone setting, make your teens turn in their phones at the end of the night, and take whatever other precautions you want to as parents. But know that social media and technology are here to stay, and you will need their help if you want to try to take on TikTok.

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