Who are most vulnerable from social media ? 

The younger generation, fondly know as ‘Millennials’  have been brought up in a fast-paced world, with the internet and social media being the norm. It is their go to place for information. They have the ability, unlike previous generations, to find information on any given subject at their fingertips. But it’s  information overload.

They know what the latest celebrity is promoting, whose wearing what to what party, how to take the best selfies and so on. They are permanently wired  into the world at large. How many people have you seen walking in the streets glued to their phone, that they forget to look up and bump in to you?

They often experience FOMO (fear of missing out), if they aren’t fully in on all gossip. Take away their smartphone  and you might just as well have cut off their right arm. But is the technology helping or hindering their social development.

Simon Sinek explains this generation perfectly. Check out his YouTube talk on it.

What are the negative effects of social media?

  • We can see it clearly with girls in particular, they think that they need to look like the latest celebrity model. The perfect sculpted figure, the perfect shaped eyebrows, the perfect hair. Never before has there been as much pressure on females to conform to the media’s idea of perfection. How often do you see a young girl pouting when taking a selfie? Life to them is all about appearance.
  • They view the world through the lens of Facebook/Instagram etc and think everyone’s lives look more exciting than their own. This promotes low self-esteem.
  • Communicating to them is easier by text and social messaging sites and as such, find it difficult to talk to people face to face.  Small talk is definitely out of the question.
  • They are more likely to turn to social media for answers to their problems than ask a trusted friend.

What can we do to support them?

  • We need to instil a sense of self-worth in our children. They do not need to  look like a supermodel to gain success. We are all different with different qualities and talents. Encourage them to be happy in their own skin.
  • Help create emotional resilience in our children. Some things will come easy to them, some they will have to work harder for. Knowing that they can surmount any hurdle with time, effort and hard work will help them through the lows. Congratulate them when they have achieved a particular goal. Sometimes it’s just a matter of showing  them just how far they have come.
  • A healthy gut equals a healthy brain. Good nutrition is fundamental and will  support them in times of stress and help mitigate any  signs of depression. Eating healthy food will support a healthy body without the need to go on binge diets.
  • Sitting together and eating a meal as a family group, without the distraction of a television or media device, allows everyone to talk and share. This is  such a simple thing to do and so rarely happens nowadays but this builds emotional bonds in families. Teenagers can feel they can talk to you if they have a problem.
  • Encourage them to have gratitude for what they already have. Wishing you had some item that someone else has, only creates frustration and jealousy. There will always be people with more. Just because you don’t have the latest iPhone, doesn’t make you a bad person. Concentrate on yourself, not them!
  • Particularly with younger children, don’t allow them to be on the phone/internet all the time. Set rules around time on electronic devices.
  • Turn the WIFI off at bedtime. No chance then of sneaking the phone under the covers. Lack of sleep leads to poor Academic performance. Latest studies show that teens just aren’t getting enough sleep and this has far-reaching consequences. Without proper sleep, memory and the ability to concentrate as well as higher cognitive functioning is severely affected.

Our younger generation perceive the world through the social media filter and depression is on the increase. According to the Department of Education, which spoke to 30,000 pupils aged 14-15, more than one in three teen girls suffer from anxiety or depression.

Now more than ever, they need our support.