Social media has its benefits, including rallying people around good causes and allowing individuals to connect with others and share experiences. However, it also has its downsides, such as creating tension within relationships, leading to inauthentic relationships, and having a dangerous impact on teenagers’ mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. In this blog post, we’ll explore the impact of social media on teenagers and how parents can help them use it effectively and responsibly. We interviewed Dr. Ryan Anderson, who holds a Ph.D. in medical and family therapy, about social media and its effects on young people. We will discuss how parents can guide their teens to develop healthy social media habits and set them up for success in adulthood.
Dr. Anderson earned a Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, a PhD in medical and family therapy, and completed his internship at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. He has also worked as a wilderness therapist, taught college courses to first-year med students, and is involved in community outreach. Aside from these accomplishments, Dr. Anderson worked in video game design and software development. His interest in the digital world combined with his professional career in the mental health field led him to study their correlation.
When you think of social media, you might think of the negativity that comes with it. While there are plenty of cons, there are also plenty of pros that people tend to overlook. Here are some of the positive and negative sides of social media, according to Dr. Anderson:
As a parent you want to protect your child, but there are many real dangers on social media, and it can be tempting to ban it altogether. It’s also hard to keep up with all of the updates, new apps, and trends. Your teen tells you TikTok is just for singing and dancing—but is that the only way people use it? Some parents will monitor their teens’ social media activity, while others shy away from it in the name of privacy.
Teaching your teenagers how to use social media correctly will help them better manage it in their everyday lives, especially when they reach adulthood. It is part of life, and when you set boundaries from the beginning and stick to them, you set your teens up for success. Teaching healthy social media habits includes having productive conversations when you start seeing negative effects or patterns.
Here are a few discussion topics Dr. Anderson suggests to guide your conversations about social media:
Social media algorithms know you very well. They know your interests, scrolling habits, and even moods, and they’ll do everything to keep you on the app. Being aware of this can help teens know what is happening and understand why limiting screen time is vital to their mental health.
Catfishing occurs when someone pretends to be another person on social media. They could pose as teens to connect with your children when they could be predators or scammers. Have these discussions with your kids and make sure they only connect with people they know personally. And if something feels off, it probably is. Catfish can also pose as people your children know in real life.
Not all scammers and predators are catfish, but they are good at what they do. Scammers target the elderly because they are vulnerable, and they target teens for the opposite reason—they think they’re invincible and could never fall for a scam. Helping your teens recognize when something feels wrong can give them the knowledge they need to stay safe.
Help your teens understand that once their content has been posted or sent, it belongs to the social media platform. There is no getting it back, and even if it disappears or gets deleted, it lives on in a database that could be hacked, leaked, or even sold. The same goes for Snapchat, even though the photos “disappear.”
Social media does have a lot of pros, even though there are some scary and concerning aspects. Working with your kids and teaching them how to use social media positively will let them experience the benefits and set them up for success when they reach adulthood.
Dr. Anderson uses the analogy of teaching a teenager how to drive. You wouldn’t just hand them the keys and say “Don’t crash,” so why would you download Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok to their phone and say “Don’t use this the wrong way”? Just like your teen needs guidance, lessons, and practice driving a car, they need the same when they’re learning to use social media.
When you help your teen understand the dangers of social media and how to overcome them, they’ll understand how to have a positive experience overall.
Fostering and developing healthy social media habits takes time, practice, trial, error, and self-awareness. Here are a few suggestions about how to start building that healthy relationship so you can help your teens do the same:
Social media has its pros and cons, but when you teach your teenagers how to navigate it correctly and how to create healthy habits, you can set them up for success in the future.
If you would like to hear more about this topic, listen to the Not by Chance podcast episode “Screen Savvy with Dr. Ryan Anderson” on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
Mike is one of those brilliant, self-taught, back end developers that you always hear about. As a youth he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what . . .” When he isn’t cranking out new code, Mike keeps up on the newest technologies and every Tuesday and Thursday nights he trains SpeedSoft with his team.
Rafael has his degree in Marketing and Advertising and years of experience with our dev team. As a teen he could trust that “The most important thing in life is love, and the most valuable things are our family and friends.” When he isn’t working on making the website and mobile versions of Trustyy seamless and functional, he unwinds by exploring nature. His favorite activities are climbing mountains, camping, going to the beach, swimming, playing the harmonica and always learning new things.
Afton’s experience is in marketing and bookkeeping. As a teen she could trust that with her parents “Feeding the horses and milking the cow each day before school–not after–was a must.” When she isn’t busy with keeping Trustyy’s lights on, you’ll usually find her roller skating at the local rink or on car rides in the canyons with friends.
Nicoli has a degree in Multimedia Production. She has worked with our team of developers for three years. She learned to trust her own parents when they taught her “Things won’t come easy and that working hard will bring me great blessings!” When she isn’t putting together beautiful marketing pieces for the Trustyy App she likes to take pictures, play the guitar, piano, and drums, meet up with her family to laugh over the silly things they did as kids.
Adriano is certified in Analysis and Systems Development. In his family he could trust the fact that “One difficult experience teaches me that failure is not the end, but rather an opportunity for growth and learning.” When he is away from his work in making sure the Trustyy App buttons and bells and whistles are working properly, he likes to go to the gym, to the beach to surf, on walks with his dog, or go out with his girlfriend.
Lucas’s work experience in User Experience, Interface Design and Product Management. As a teen he could trust that “In my home honesty was highly valued and lying was not tolerated.” When he isn’t at work making sure the Trustyy App is easy on the eyes, Lucas likes hiking, gaming, going out for dinner, and spending time with family.
Cadu has his education in Analysis and System Development. While growing up he could always trust that “My parents would be there to support from playing soccer at the park to learning to ride a bike.” When he isn’t making sure things are easily navigated for our Trustyy App users, he likes to play beach soccer and enjoy music of any type, but specifically rock, country, R&B, and pop.
Mike is one of those brilliant, self-taught, back-end developers that you always hear about. As a youth he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what.” When he isn’t cranking out new code, Mike keeps up on the newest technologies and every Tuesday and Thursday nights he trains SpeedSoft with his team.
Roxanne received her bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education. She has worked in publishing and marketing for the past 14 years. In her family Roxanne says she could trust that “Her grammar and posture would be consistently corrected, to help her to become a lady.” When she isn’t busy writing and beautifying things for the Trustyy App, you can find her reading biographies, practicing yoga, or gathering the family to talk business, celebrate wins or just plain hang out.
Sidney has a bachelor’s degree in Web Development and has worked in technology for 16 years, building apps for the last 10 years. Growing up he could trust that “It was always expected that I would fix anything related to technology.” When he isn’t managing the development of the Trustyy App, you will find him spending time with his wife and kids. He loves to make Brazillian BBQ with his family.
Jim has a degree in Design and over 25 years of experience creating SaaS products and managing talented product and development teams. In his years at home as the oldest of five he could trust that “Each child got a weekly ‘night-up’ where we got to stay up late with a parent and do anything we wanted with them.” When he isn’t looking 10 miles down the road for what will come next on the Trustyy App, you will find Jim canyoneering, doing photography, watercolor painting, or keeping up on the latest gadgets and technologies.
Eric earned his degree in Communications, Public Relations and Advertising, then added on an MBA. He says he could trust that “His parents were honest people who kept their commitments–especially to their kids.” When Eric isn’t keeping everyone at Trustyy on task, he is an outdoor enthusiast, year around, rain or shine, cold or hot, with biking in the summer and skiing in the winter.
Tim earned masters and doctoral degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy, and has 30 years of experience working with families. While growing up Tim says he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what, and that my dad would require that I respect my mother.” When he isn’t busy guiding the vision for the Trustyy App, you can find Tim working around the house and yard, taking care of his sheep, dogs and horses, or enjoying a game of Corn Hole with the family.