The negative impact social media can have on your child’s self-esteem is likely a big concern of yours. As I’m sure you understand, the little things in their life can sometimes feel like the end of the world. During these developmental years, they are seeking independence while still heavily relying on the attention and validation of others.
Unfortunately, social media can have a negative effect on your child whether that was its intention or not. They may feel upset and down about themselves after spending hours scrolling through influencers or people they know personally. They want to look like them, dress like them or experience the things they are boasting about online. You can tell them to be happy for others and not compare themselves, but we all know that is easier said than done. As this type of content is tough to monitor and not necessarily “negative” itself, we recommend that you consistently check in with your child to see if social media is making them feel this way.
These check-ins can be brought up in the form of playful questions or by coming up with positive affirmations to describe themself. If you are consistent, it will be easier for you to identify changes in their energy. It will also create an open and comfortable environment to initiate conversations if they ever begin to feel discouraged or down about themself in any way. The sooner you address these issues, the better. This kind of confidence will require some work but instilling a strong sense of self-worth at a young age will have a tremendous impact on your child.
On the other hand, there is a more direct and obvious type of negative content; cyberbullying. We’re talking about the posts, comments or private messages that were written with the intention of hurting your child. This is still difficult to control as you can’t filter what others say online. However, with Cyber Dive, you can remain involved by monitoring the activity your child is interacting with.
One place that has become a haven for cyberbullies is TikTok. This platform is filled with trolls hiding behind a screen with obscure usernames intentionally tearing others down. TikTok has the feature of being able to “like” comments themselves which, in some cases, incentivizes users to come up with the funniest and sometimes most hurtful comments. It is rare that the top comments of viral videos are not sarcastic, hateful, pathetic attempts at humor towards the creator.
Unfortunately, young kids are no exception to this online abuse. Whether it's from people they know or strangers, these words can have a brutal effect on their mental health. Even 16-year-old TikTok celebrity, Charli D'Amelio, has become a victim of these types of attacks. With such a large social following, her life has been put under a microscope and she has begun to experience body shaming. The teen influencer has snapped back that her weight shouldn't even be a topic of discussion and encourages her followers to only spread positivity and continue to lift one another up rather than tearing each other down.
Over the past couple of years, there have been rumors that some popular social media companies may remove “likes” from their business model. There are many reasons or theories as to why this should or should not happen. The biggest reason for it is probably the fact that users are defining themselves by the amount of “likes” or “comments” they receive on their posts. The bigger issue is that they are becoming dependent on it. Associating their self worth with that “like” button can be detrimental to one’s mental health and self-esteem. This is why building up your child’s confidence offline is so important. You need to teach your child to find their worth and self-love outside of social media. This way, they can post, interact and explore without the overwhelming pressure of being “liked” online. When they feel supported and appreciated in their real-life it will, in turn, teach them to love themselves despite the attention they may or may not be receiving online.
You can't control the hatred coming from others but you can control the kindness you choose to spread and the people you surround yourself with. Wouldn’t it be great if every time your child logged onto social media they left feeling encouraged and confident? Well, let’s make that a priority! Teach them the importance of following accounts that promote positivity, loving yourself and being confident in who you are. This type of energy will rub off on them and change the feelings that they associate with being online. Many of us are often naive about the amount of bullying that happens online, especially with the younger generations who have grown up in this digital world. They need to understand the value of surrounding themselves with an online community that makes them feel safe, confident and inspired.
Cyber Dive understands that social media isn’t going anywhere. Kids are engulfed in it and their young lives are revolving around it. As a parent, we encourage you to prioritize building up their self-confidence and teaching them to not be dependent on the validation of others both on and offline. Consistently checking in with them will make them feel more comfortable talking about any obstacles they may face when learning to love themself. If they create a positive online community where kindness and self-love are encouraged, they will thrive in this digital world! And you, as a parent, can sleep soundly at night knowing that your child has a healthy relationship with themself and social media.