In a recent poll, 70% of teens admitted that anxiety and depression are major problems facing their peers.
There are many explanations for these numbers. Bullying, negative body image, peer pressure, and social media use are just a few. Most teens claim to have plenty of social connections (especially online), but how many of those connections are positive relationships?
Teenagers need a solid social support system — online and in the real world — to improve their sense of wellbeing and grow into healthy adults. Keep reading for three ways you can support the teens in your life.
1. Reduce the Negative Impact of Social Media
Social media is a terrific way for teens to connect with their friends, but it opens the door to a world of potential problems too.
73% of teens admit they’ve been bullied or cyberbullied, which can lead to anxiety, depression, self-harm, and social withdrawal. As a parent, your job is to make sure your child feels (and is) safe and that the bullying isn’t their fault. Collect evidence and work with the school or local law enforcement to address the issue.
Teens who spend a lot of time on social media may also develop negative body image and become more prone to eating disorders and depression. If you suspect your teen is struggling with this, encourage them to seek out body positive content on social media. Studies show that this can lead to a more positive body image as well as increased confidence and a better mood.
2. Form Real Life Social Connections
Healthy teens have friends online and in the real world. What can you do if your teen struggles to make friends offline?
For starters, don’t force them to do activities they don’t enjoy. Sit down and brainstorm ideas that suit their interests and personality.
For example, would they like to volunteer for a local cause, get a part-time job, or join a sports team? Or would they like to finally pursue a hobby they’ve always been interested in?
You can also gently help them to identify things they have in common with other teens (and adults). Do they love K-pop? Marvel Superheroes? Chess? Horseback riding? Whatever their interests, there are sure to be others in your community who feel the same way.
3. Listen Instead of Lecturing
Despite your best efforts, your teen may still struggle to find a healthy social support system. They may also be dealing with serious underlying issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, or drug use. If you suspect your teen may have a problem with drugs or alcohol, check out this rehab center for professional advice.
In the meantime, encourage open and honest communication with your teen.
Rather than lecture them about the dangers of social media use, invite them to show you how the platform works and how they find content they enjoy. If they feel like no one understands them, ask them why they feel that way and then really listen to their response.
Give Teens the Social Support System They Need
Our fast-paced world is stressful for all of us, and sadly, many teens haven’t found healthy ways to cope. Use the tips above to create a positive social support system for the teens in your community!
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