Social Media & LGBTQ+ Kids. Is it helpful or harmful?

Mental Health
By
Cyber Dive
Oct 6, 2022
4 min read

Remember that feeling when you read something and you know it just GETS you?

It doesn’t matter if it’s a quote in a book, a text from a close friend, or a social media post from someone you follow because the feeling’s the same. Down to your core, you feel seen.

It’s the difference between sympathy and understanding because sympathy says,  “I support you because I can imagine how you feel.” Understanding says, “I support you because I’ve been there too.”

When you find a person or community who understands, you want to spend more time there, right? It’s not because sympathy doesn’t help! It’s because you’ve found a place where you feel understood on the deepest level.

The same is true for your LGBTQ+ kid.

Social media is a powerful tool to satisfy their craving for relationships, community, and authenticity.

Now, let’s stop you right there and clarify.

The fact that LGBTQ+ kids feel safe, connected, and encouraged on social media doesn’t automatically mean you’re an unsupportive parent. You could create the most welcoming home environment but if you’ve never experienced the journey of coming out, a piece of your kid’s experience will always be a little different than yours.

At home, your kid may find unconditional love in a secure relationship with you. Online, they may find support in a community walking in their exact shoes. Both pieces are essential for your kid to thrive.

But, don’t LGBTQ+ kids experience more cyberbullying online?

Lots of research has focused on this and with good reason. LGBTQ+ kids experience 3x more cyberbullying than their straight peers and more than 50% develop depression as a result.

We get it. It’s natural to think eliminating social media will protect your kid. No access to the risk, no negative impact, right?

Removing social media isn’t the answer.

If you know anything about us, you know we never believe in restrictions!

So how do you support them instead?

1) Connect them with healthy LGBTQ+ spaces online.

Think back to the feeling we talked about earlier. That moment when you felt seen because you found someone walking the exact path you’re on. It filled a space inside that even the deepest sympathy couldn’t quite reach.

Through the online world, your kid can access support like never before.

Removing social media doesn’t mean the possibility of negative experiences is gone forever. In fact, it might just do the opposite. If your kid is left out online, they may become isolated from their friends or an even bigger target for bullying. Isn’t this exactly what we’re trying to avoid?

Rather, using social media can help LGBTQ+ kids:

  • express themselves in a way they might not be able to offline.
  • receive support and camaraderie from others that helps them navigate difficult situations.
  • feel less like outsiders as they build friendships with like-minded people all over the world.
  • witness the power and joy of living authentic lives.

As they develop these relationships, many LGBTQ+ kids feel their online friends are significantly more supportive than their in-person friends. Your kid needs this to thrive, especially if they feel scared to be themselves outside the house.

Social media also connects them with important organizations like the Trevor Project, the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and the It Gets Better Project. These spaces were specifically created to support the LGBTQ+ community, providing a treasure chest of education, resources, and support for kids and families.

So, weigh these positives in your mind when thinking about your LGBTQ+ kid having social media. It’s popular to demonize it but the reality is not so black and white.

Now, we’re not saying there are no risks involved with social media but that’s where you come in.

2) Actively get involved with their online world.

You took the most important step by accepting and supporting your LGBTQ+ kid when they came out to you. Never forget the impact of that!

But, maybe you’re wondering, “how do I provide that same support in their online world while keeping them safe?”

First, set aside the assumption that online friends are less important than offline ones.

This may seem counterintuitive at first and we get it! Many of us remember the days when our relationships were primarily in person. With our kids, social media is a key part of growing up, a change that’s shifted the way they make and keep friends.

If your LGBTQ+ kid doesn’t feel like they can be themselves with their friends and classmates in person, they can still find support in their social media community.

These online relationships can empower your kid to live authentically.

When you value these relationships as much as your kid’s offline friends, your actions speak louder than words. You show your kid your priority is that they have healthy, supportive friendships, no matter where they develop.

Second, chat about the positive things they’ve seen on social media!

It’s tempting to be overwhelmed by the fear that your kid is having negative experiences online and make that the focus of conversations. Let’s take a step back though, and think about the impact on your kid.

When fear drives conversations, they can sense this and may begin withdrawing. Instead of feeling confident about sharing things with you, they may worry honesty will provoke a negative response and decide to not share at all.

Avoid this pitfall and encourage openness by:

  • exploring resources from supportive organizations together
  • talking about their favorite LGBTQ+ influencers
  • asking what online encouragement or advice has been helpful recently
  • and more

Experiencing this positive involvement lays the groundwork for trust. As that deepens, your kid will feel safe and secure to open up about anything negative as well.

For every family, navigating social media with your LGBTQ+ kid will look different.

We can’t tell you how that will look for yours. Instead, we encourage you to reject the popular demonization of social media and consider the positive impact it could have on your kid.

With you at their side, what relationships could they develop to help them thrive?

Elizabeth Smart, Elizabeth Smart Foundation
"It's encouraging to know that, as parents, you do not have to be left in the dark, you can be involved. That's quite a powerful tool."
Elizabeth Smart
Elizabeth Smart Foundation
Georgann Yaya, AZCentral
"Helping parents prepare for the gamut of situations to which social media opens the door has made [Cyber Dive] venture more valuable than the bottom line."
Georgann Yara
azcentral
Billy Harfosh, iHeartRadio
"If we're concerned about stranger danger... what about a stranger getting into your child's direct messages? It can be just as dangerous, if not more so."
Billy Harfosh
iHeartRadio
Desiree Briggs, Mama Army
"[Aqua One] was just launched and is going to change the way that our children grow up in a technology-driven world."
Desiree Briggs
Co-Founder of The Mama Army
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb
"As a Lawman and a parent I love seeing solutions for protecting children from the child predators. This Aqua One phone helps parents and even addresses the mental health of the child. Well done Cyber Dive."
Sheriff Mark Lamb
Sheriff of Pinal County Arizona
Dawn Van Camp, Mama Army
"In a society that relies so much on virtual connection, it is necessary that we teach our children how to navigate and use technology responsibly."
Dawn Van Camp
Co-Founder of The Mama Army
Phoenix Dream Center CEO Brian Steele
“One of the neatest parts about the tool is that it gives insight into not only the safety of what my child is doing out there but what my child is thinking.”
Brian Steele
CEO of Phoenix Dream Center
Larissa Marulli, Moms.com
“Being informed of your child's social media habits isn't just beneficial from a safety standpoint. You'll get an inside look at what your kid is into and enjoying.”
Larissa Marulli
moms.com
Elizabeth Smart, Elizabeth Smart Foundation
"It's encouraging to know that, as parents, you do not have to be left in the dark, you can be involved. That's quite a powerful tool."
Elizabeth Smart
Elizabeth Smart Foundation
Georgann Yaya, AZCentral
"Helping parents prepare for the gamut of situations to which social media opens the door has made [Cyber Dive] venture more valuable than the bottom line."
Georgann Yara
azcentral
Billy Harfosh, iHeartRadio
"If we're concerned about stranger danger... what about a stranger getting into your child's direct messages? It can be just as dangerous, if not more so."
Billy Harfosh
iHeartRadio
Dawn Van Camp, Mama Army
"In a society that relies so much on virtual connection, it is necessary that we teach our children how to navigate and use technology responsibly."
Dawn Van Camp
Co-Founder of The Mama Army
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb
"As a Lawman and a parent I love seeing solutions for protecting children from the child predators. This Aqua One phone helps parents and even addresses the mental health of the child. Well done Cyber Dive."
Sheriff Mark Lamb
Sheriff of Pinal County Arizona
Desiree Briggs, Mama Army
"[Aqua One] was just launched and is going to change the way that our children grow up in a technology-driven world."
Desire Briggs
Co-Founder of The Mama Army
Phoenix Dream Center CEO Brian Steele
“One of the neatest parts about the tool is that it gives insight into not only the safety of what my child is doing out there but what my child is thinking.”
Brian Steele
CEO of Phoenix Dream Center
Larissa Marulli, Moms.com
“Being informed of your child's social media habits isn't just beneficial from a safety standpoint. You'll get an inside look at what your kid is into and enjoying.”
Larissa Marulli
moms.com

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