New Technologies

The dark side of social media for kids: low self-esteem and stress


How old are your children and how many hours do they spend a day on social media? It sure is a topic that you have thought about more than once. And it is that, for many advantages that new technologies may have for children - fun, new knowledge, friendships - there can also be a hidden face if they are not limited in their use. Did you know that experts point to social networks as the third source of stress and low self-esteem of children and adolescents? Let's look at it in detail and analyze in turn what we can do as parents and teachers.

When they are very young, boys and girls spend some time of the day watching pictures on television or on the tablet. Time that increases as they grow, as does their use. Social networks and the Internet almost on demand become one of his favorite hobbies. Make no mistake, new technologies bring many benefits to young and old, such as leisure time or are an excellent tool for learning a second language.

So much so that in many schools apps are already used for subjects such as mathematics or English. Now, things change a lot when these new technologies are used without any supervision, especially if they are profiles created on sites like Twitter or Instagram. According to official data, young people register on social networks at a very early age. Is it an advantage or does it really have a hidden side that triggers low self-esteem and stress?

Social networks have a hidden face because our image and that of children and adolescents is exposed socially. What happens if I don't get 'Likes'? A question that, unfortunately, almost all boys and girls ask themselves. 'It may be that I don't dress well', 'I'm overweight' ... Fashion and beauty canons that they themselves insist on adopting and that really create expectations that end up damaging their self-esteem.

Common is that they take a model or an influencer for an idol and try to look like her as much as possible. Of course they will not succeed, which leads to low self-esteem and anxiety problems. According to Úrsula Perona, a child psychologist and disseminator, who told us about child stress and told us the main reasons why children suffer it in our #ConectaConTuHijo encounter, 'adolescence is a very vulnerable stage, they are consolidating their identity and have Lots of doubts. Being socially exposed only hurts their self-esteem. '

As Úrsula comments, 'new technologies and more specifically social networks can be a cause of stress for boys and girls. And, the fact that they can be hyper-connected at any time of the day makes them worry about issues that are traditionally adult such as body image, fashion or the 'likes' they have on their social media profiles. '

According to recent studies, social networks and excess technology are the third cause of stress in children. Won't we parents and teachers have to take part to prevent it? Several experts are already talking about techno-stress, the new addiction of young people. There are many adolescents who have anxiety when they are punished without a mobile or their battery runs out. If the use is limited to one hour a day this is avoided.

Let's analyze a little more what Úrsula Perona says: 'The responsibility of social networks belongs to the parents, if a child has a mobile or tablet it is because we have given it to them' Will we not then be in charge of preventing low self-esteem and stress make an appearance? It is right then that we asked Úrsula what measures we can take in this regard.

Stop to think a little what may be happening
Analysis is the basis of everything. In this way we can see what causes stress in children and begin to take appropriate action. On the other hand, we should not let children have a mobile or tablet when they are very young. "I do not recommend that a child have a telephone or access to social networks before the age of 12", says Úrsula Perona.

Get that emotion out
Finding the way to express a feeling is key to solving a stressful situation. Of course, most children do not know how to do it, so we adults will have to give them the necessary tools to do so. 'That they can talk about their feelings is already healing in itself, it can be, for example, through drawing,' adds Úrsula.

Supervise, supervise and supervise
Letting children use social media as they please is the first and most serious mistake we adults make. You have to be aware of the use that the child will make with the mobile and make them see the danger of, for example, sharing their photos on social networks. Úrsula has described it as 'instilling in them a culture of using social networks'.

Limit the hours children spend using social media
It is not about controlling their profiles, but being aware of what they do to be able to advise them correctly. In turn, you must set the start and end time when using the mobile. Nothing to let them spend the whole afternoon looking at the cell phone screen and browsing social networks.

Play or do sports every day for a while
What to do instead of being every afternoon giving 'Likes' or commenting on photos? Well, what we all did when we were young, hang out after class in the park. The time of leisure and unstructured play outdoors is vital so that they can let their imagination run wild and put aside new technologies.

Avoid the dark side of social media, that is, the stress and anxiety, it is possible and it is in our power. Shall we start working?

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