For Teens: Don't Let Social Media Bring You Down

Reviewed Apr 11, 2017

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Summary

  • People's posts don’t tell the whole story
  • Try not to compare yourself with others online
  • Give yourself breaks from social networking

There’s a lot that’s good about social media. It’s an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family, work with classmates on school projects, and spread the word about important issues. But it can have a downside, too.

Researchers have found that people can feel bad about themselves if they spend a lot of time browsing other peoples’ posts and updates.

Do you ever feel insecure, lonely or left out after spending time using social media? To enjoy the benefits of social networking and avoid the emotional pitfalls, keep the following in mind:

Friends’ posts do not tell the whole story. You may feel you come up short if you’re constantly comparing yourself to what others post. People tend to present the best versions of themselves and leave everything else out. Your social media accounts are likely full of friends having fun and sharing their exciting accomplishments. What you’re not seeing are tweets about the scholarships they didn’t get or the photos of themselves sitting home alone on a Saturday night.

If you feel blue or bad about yourself because of certain people, change your settings so you no longer see their posts or tweets.

Be an active user of social media. Studies show that users feel more socially connected when they like and comment on others’ posts. It’s the difference between standing on the sidelines and being part of the action. You’ll have a lot more fun and experience what’s called “social bonding” if you’re in the mix, interacting with friends online.

The number of your online friends, followers, or likes is not a reflection of your worth. Each “like,” “share,” or friend request triggers the reward center in the brain. You may get a little rush with each notification. The flipside is that you may feel worse about yourself when you don’t get the online feedback you crave. Try to wean yourself off the thrill of the online like and remember that you’re much more than a “thumbs up” or the total number of “friends.”

Give yourself breaks from being online. People often turn to social media because they’re bored or lonely. Next time you feel that way, ask yourself what you really need. Get together in real life with a friend. Pick up a musical instrument or shoot baskets. As you spend less time online and more time doing things you enjoy, you’ll learn to depend less on the temporary boost you get from social media.
 
Just as with anything else in life, aim to strike a healthy balance between spending time with friends online and off. Real-life interactions are a lot more fun and lead to much deeper connections than are possible online.  

By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.
Source: Burke, Moira; Marlow, Cameron; Lento, Thomas (2010) "Social Network Activity and Social Well-Being," Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '10), 1909-1912; Meshi, Dar; Morawetz, Carmen; Heekeren, Hauke R, (2013) "Nucleus Accumbens Response to Gains in Reputation for the Self Relative to Gains for Others Predicts Social Media Use," Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7(00439)

Summary

  • People's posts don’t tell the whole story
  • Try not to compare yourself with others online
  • Give yourself breaks from social networking

There’s a lot that’s good about social media. It’s an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family, work with classmates on school projects, and spread the word about important issues. But it can have a downside, too.

Researchers have found that people can feel bad about themselves if they spend a lot of time browsing other peoples’ posts and updates.

Do you ever feel insecure, lonely or left out after spending time using social media? To enjoy the benefits of social networking and avoid the emotional pitfalls, keep the following in mind:

Friends’ posts do not tell the whole story. You may feel you come up short if you’re constantly comparing yourself to what others post. People tend to present the best versions of themselves and leave everything else out. Your social media accounts are likely full of friends having fun and sharing their exciting accomplishments. What you’re not seeing are tweets about the scholarships they didn’t get or the photos of themselves sitting home alone on a Saturday night.

If you feel blue or bad about yourself because of certain people, change your settings so you no longer see their posts or tweets.

Be an active user of social media. Studies show that users feel more socially connected when they like and comment on others’ posts. It’s the difference between standing on the sidelines and being part of the action. You’ll have a lot more fun and experience what’s called “social bonding” if you’re in the mix, interacting with friends online.

The number of your online friends, followers, or likes is not a reflection of your worth. Each “like,” “share,” or friend request triggers the reward center in the brain. You may get a little rush with each notification. The flipside is that you may feel worse about yourself when you don’t get the online feedback you crave. Try to wean yourself off the thrill of the online like and remember that you’re much more than a “thumbs up” or the total number of “friends.”

Give yourself breaks from being online. People often turn to social media because they’re bored or lonely. Next time you feel that way, ask yourself what you really need. Get together in real life with a friend. Pick up a musical instrument or shoot baskets. As you spend less time online and more time doing things you enjoy, you’ll learn to depend less on the temporary boost you get from social media.
 
Just as with anything else in life, aim to strike a healthy balance between spending time with friends online and off. Real-life interactions are a lot more fun and lead to much deeper connections than are possible online.  

By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.
Source: Burke, Moira; Marlow, Cameron; Lento, Thomas (2010) "Social Network Activity and Social Well-Being," Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '10), 1909-1912; Meshi, Dar; Morawetz, Carmen; Heekeren, Hauke R, (2013) "Nucleus Accumbens Response to Gains in Reputation for the Self Relative to Gains for Others Predicts Social Media Use," Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7(00439)

Summary

  • People's posts don’t tell the whole story
  • Try not to compare yourself with others online
  • Give yourself breaks from social networking

There’s a lot that’s good about social media. It’s an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family, work with classmates on school projects, and spread the word about important issues. But it can have a downside, too.

Researchers have found that people can feel bad about themselves if they spend a lot of time browsing other peoples’ posts and updates.

Do you ever feel insecure, lonely or left out after spending time using social media? To enjoy the benefits of social networking and avoid the emotional pitfalls, keep the following in mind:

Friends’ posts do not tell the whole story. You may feel you come up short if you’re constantly comparing yourself to what others post. People tend to present the best versions of themselves and leave everything else out. Your social media accounts are likely full of friends having fun and sharing their exciting accomplishments. What you’re not seeing are tweets about the scholarships they didn’t get or the photos of themselves sitting home alone on a Saturday night.

If you feel blue or bad about yourself because of certain people, change your settings so you no longer see their posts or tweets.

Be an active user of social media. Studies show that users feel more socially connected when they like and comment on others’ posts. It’s the difference between standing on the sidelines and being part of the action. You’ll have a lot more fun and experience what’s called “social bonding” if you’re in the mix, interacting with friends online.

The number of your online friends, followers, or likes is not a reflection of your worth. Each “like,” “share,” or friend request triggers the reward center in the brain. You may get a little rush with each notification. The flipside is that you may feel worse about yourself when you don’t get the online feedback you crave. Try to wean yourself off the thrill of the online like and remember that you’re much more than a “thumbs up” or the total number of “friends.”

Give yourself breaks from being online. People often turn to social media because they’re bored or lonely. Next time you feel that way, ask yourself what you really need. Get together in real life with a friend. Pick up a musical instrument or shoot baskets. As you spend less time online and more time doing things you enjoy, you’ll learn to depend less on the temporary boost you get from social media.
 
Just as with anything else in life, aim to strike a healthy balance between spending time with friends online and off. Real-life interactions are a lot more fun and lead to much deeper connections than are possible online.  

By Sharron Luttrell, Military OneSource. Used with permission.
Source: Burke, Moira; Marlow, Cameron; Lento, Thomas (2010) "Social Network Activity and Social Well-Being," Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '10), 1909-1912; Meshi, Dar; Morawetz, Carmen; Heekeren, Hauke R, (2013) "Nucleus Accumbens Response to Gains in Reputation for the Self Relative to Gains for Others Predicts Social Media Use," Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7(00439)

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