The Easter holidays promoted a social media holiday. Okay, well maybe I did sneak a peak once and a while, but I wasn’t logged on, responding to activity or posting. So it wasn’t a complete break, and nor was it completely relaxing – in the back of my mind, there was a constant worry that I was losing followers or worse, people were tuning out.
Now I’ve returned to the computer after my social media hiatus to assess my status with some apprehension and anxiousness. Have people dropped me because I’ve been inactive? Am I not as popular as I used to be? To put it into perspective, I’m an adult whose social media accounts help to tell the personal side of my business and develop relationships with customers. I do think this is different from a personal account and I can therefore distance myself from dislikes or a drop in followers, but nevertheless, any negative reverberations do leave some unsettling feelings.
If a business account can be unsettling, I wonder if a personal account can be more powerful and leave a bigger imprint? Think for example of a teenage girl, who is swayed by peer pressure and whose confidence and self-worth can be deeply linked with her popularity on a social media account. If I – an adult – has trouble completely shutting off from social media, how can a girl who may intrinsically link her self-worth with social media, turn it off? How can young people grappling with peer pressure switch off without constantly worry about losing friends and becoming less popular? What if they are being bullied or inundated with negativity on their account?
It is hard to tune out the comments. They aren’t just off-the-cuff remarks that girls can choose to ignore or forget; they are in print, an eternal reminder to a teenager of her social ranking and acceptance. I’m not an expert in psychology or social media, but having been a teenager, currently a mum of two girls and a social media user, I can definitely comprehend a correlation between the rise in anxiety and depression among girls with an increase in social media use.
Given the 24/7 nature of social media and the difficulty turning it off completely, our children more than ever, in need of a solid foundation to support building their confidence, self-worth and resilience. Such a large part of teenagers identity is formed around their peers, so what can we do to supply our children with the tools to help them choose positive peer relationships and navigate any negative ricochets of social media?
My own personal feeling as a parent, involves spending time with my children to teach them how to be confident and show them that they are important enough to warrant my time. I stepped away from social media to focus on my kids over the Easter break. I did loose followers and this is hard for any business, especially a start-up on a lean budget. Looking at the long-term however, the loss is marginal. I can work hard to regain those numbers. What I can’t regain is the time spent with my children. We played games, we laughed, we talked and we learned more about one other. We built memories that like social media, will always remain, but unlike social media, I believe the memories have all contributed positively towards my children’s development and I hope have helped them feel more loved and more secure within themselves. This, social media cannot provide.
As my daughter’s grow and become increasingly inundated with social media, I hope that the attention placed on them now will provide them with tools to stand their ground confidently as they navigate and manage the intricacies of social media.
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Blog by, Tess Ackland
Tess is the founder and Director of ON! Juniper, a conscious lifestyle brand that supports girl empowerment through building self-awareness, health and happiness. ON! Juniper hand-makes organic + natural lip balms and bath bombs for girls.