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Want your teens to have high self esteem? Turn off their social media

When it comes to feeling good about yourself, you must love who you are, appreciate your unique characteristics, and feel grateful for the personality that belongs to only you. If this is true for adults, it’s equally so for children—in particular, teenagers.

Young adults are constantly attempting to find their own identity, and unfortunately, they sometimes adopt the identity of others along the way.

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Given the fact that teenagers are vulnerable and consistently looking to be accepted and liked by their peers, it should come as no surprise that they often look to social media for an outlet of escape. Apps such as Instagram, for example, often share photos and videos of individuals who aren’t always projecting the best image.

There are celebrities who share photos while they are scantily dressed. Not to mention sports figures or musicians who take photos while being showered in dollar bills. These images might not mean much to you as an adult, but to an impressionable teenager, these photos are reflective of images that are misconstrued as being cool. This is the danger of social media among young people who are seeking someone to emulate.

Although it would be great for your teen to look up to you and want to be like you, it isn’t often the “acceptable” thing for them to do. True, as they get older, they will come to appreciate everything that you have done in their lives. Until then, you may have to keep an eye open for who they are currently attempting to imitate on social media.

Many parents don’t find out about the negative images that their kids are following until it is often too late. The moment you see that your teenager is beginning to dress inappropriately, act or speak negatively, or show signs that they are being disrespectful to either you or other authority figures, then you might want to sit them down and have a talk.

Don’t worry about looking nerdy to your teenager because, believe it or not, they probably feel that way about you anyway. It’s better to show your teen that you are willing to discuss the images that they find attractive than it is for you to say nothing and then attempt to fix things on the back end. There is nothing better than having a real conversation about the images on social media and how you feel about them.

Let your teen know that you are aware of the imagery that is often promoted online, but that you feel those images can be damaging. This is the time to build your relationship with your teenager so that there can be a mutual understanding about what is, and what is not, decent.

Remember, you are not attempting to win a popularity contest with your teenager. You are merely making sure that the lines of communication are open between you both. Your teen will not only appreciate the fact that you cared enough to have a discussion about their online interests, but they will also understand that you are watching their online activity. It’s difficult for a teen to be sneaky about their online interests when they know that their parents are watching their every move.

Care enough about your teenagers to help them understand that the images that they think are so cool on social media are merely for entertainment purposes. Teens need to understand the difference between reality and the false sense of reality that social media tends to project. Your kids, and how they ultimately feel about themselves, will depend on you and your guidance. Affectionately show your teen that who they are can’t be found on social media…and that’s a good thing.

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About Audra L.

Audra L. is an author, columnist and community activist who's dedicated to finding truth through research and effective communication. She received her degree in Public Policy and teaches Community Development, Public Speaking and Communications Law to youth throughout the nation. She is the recipient of over 23 awards and honors for her commitment to community outreach initiatives.

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