Reflecting on Social Media and Teens

Being an adolescent wasn’t easy for me, I went through puberty in the 90s before the internet, makeup tutorials, hair straighteners, and cover up that matched your skin tone.

While I was going through the unfortunate phase of growing out my mushroom cut perm my friends and I owned our new blemishes, bad hair days, and freakish things our bodies were doing to us.

It was what was “supposed to happen” or at least that’s what our parents told us and we were all awkward together.

But with such a heavy online expectation for teens and youth now, so many social media platforms, and the expectation that youth and adults be perfect, rich, and have it all how are kids expected to be kids, go through the rights of passage, be weird, and find out who they really are?

Everything kids do, say, and feel is plastered on social media for friends and enemies to scrutinize. They are evaluated by pictures that are filtered and post for likes that bring fake, short term gratification.

The term “bullied” has taken on a whole new meaning and even people who are considered friends can now be seen tearing down each other on posts with the comments, “no offense,” “keepin’ it real,” “sorry not sorry.”

Teens brush it off, shrugging. The comments might be hurtful, rude, and over the top, but that’s the online world they know and they accept it.

This is normal?

It makes me think long and hard about teen behavior and what accounts I will allow my child to have when that time comes. Do I want her to hear only negative things about herself from peers on a daily basis, no. And I don’t want her looks to be what drives her to post for likes.

I want her to find connections outside of social media and supports in person. To giggle and laugh full belly laughs with her friends and to make those real friendships that last.

Social media can be a useful tool when used correctly, but when used incorrectly it can be damaging. I can’t imagine how drastically different my life would be had I grown up with my teen years plastered on the internet.

Some things shouldn’t be shared and as parents it is our jobs to teach our children about humility, decency, and respect.

Perhaps if we all did that our online world might one day become safer and a more positive space.

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