Social media or social mania?


Social media or social mania?It seems that nowadays everyone is on social media in one form or another. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and countless blogs are only a small sampling of the social media outlets available to anyone who wants to share their thoughts and experiences. I personally subscribe to five social media websites and they keep me connected to my friends and family, help me learn new things, and share my ideas. But recently, I have heard about potential problems linked to social media usage, and I was curious to see what social media is being used for by my peers.

Did you know?

  • Research focused on youth and their Facebook usage over a period of time found that the more time they spent on the site the less satisfied they were with their life.
  • MIT researchers found that anger was the fastest spreading emotion on Twitter.
  • A recent Canadian study on online youth behaviour found that 48% of respondents had fictitious online profiles that they used to access adult or age-restricted websites.

These findings can help shed some light on the issues of teen mental health and cyber-bullying. Looking over all this research leads me to question what social media is doing to teen confidence.

On the positive side, it increases our confidence by:

  • Making us available to receive direct positive feedback.
  • Capturing fun times in our lives that help us build a positive foundation towards lifelong memories.
  • Discovering new influences to explore our creativity and quench our thirst for knowledge.

Social media can negatively impact our confidence by:

  • Facing competition and judgment by being compared to others through text or photos.
  • Confronting hurtful comments from known friends or anonymous profiles.
  • Bombarding us with encouragement to push our online persona a little further and be more daring in what we say or pictures we post of ourselves.

My online experiences have generated a mixed bag of positive and negative emotions. I have learned amazing things and made new friends, but I have also experienced negative feelings and thoughts, and seen social media hurt those around me. In an effort to balance things out I’ve collected tips that I challenge myself to keep:

Take a tech break

Go one day a month without going online. Surprisingly, this is harder than you may think, but if you can manage it the payoff is huge! You create distance from the online world and can check in with your own feelings and thoughts. Being in touch with yourself encourages you to see perspective in situations. Perspective grows from allowing for time to think things through.

Think before you post

Before you hit send, post, or pin, take a second to think: Will posting this hurt someone else? Is this something that could come back to haunt me? Am I pinning this because I want to or was I dared to do it?

When I get caught up in the moment and want to post something, this is my shortcut to perspective:

  1. I think about the people in my life whose opinion I value and whose love I cherish.
  2. I ask myself: Would I want them to see what I am about to post?

If I ever answer no, I stop myself, no matter how funny my post is, and I delete it.

Social media can be a wonderful tool, opening up worlds of information and inspiration, but all the same it must be treated with caution and care. If used irresponsibly and thoughtlessly, reputations can be destroyed, feelings lastingly hurt, private information made public with disastrous results, and we can actually alienate ourselves from the people we had sought to connect with.

If you have concerns about your or your teenager’s social media activities, talking things through with a counsellor can help. Explore some of the options available to you at It’s easier than ever to access EFAP at your convenience, day or night, at home or away.

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