Social media, online gaming, and other forms of digital communications are a significant part of most teens’ social lives. They rely on digital communications to feel more connected with peers. In fact, over half of U.S. teens have made a friend online. Yet, while teens gravitate online to feel more connected, confident, and popular, studies have also shown that the trending increase of teen anxiety, depression, and general unhappiness coincides with how teens socialize today.
Teen Social Media Statistics
- Over 90% of teens use social media daily. 25% of teen social media users spend 4 or more hours on it each day [Source: Pew Research Center study].
- 54% of teen social media users say social media often distracts them when they should be paying attention to the people they’re with [Source: Common Sense Media].
- 42% of teen social media users say social media has taken away from the time they could spend with friends in person [Source: Common Sense Media].
These statistics do not include the amount of time teens spend on video games, texting, and other digital technology.
Teen Social Media, Loneliness, and Isolation
It may surprise you to learn that even though teens have more social connections through technology, studies show that today’s teens have higher scores of loneliness than retirees, and they feel more lonely than when their parents were their age [Cigna’s 2018 U.S. Loneliness Index]. While social media may not directly cause loneliness, the behavior that goes with it can lead to these feelings. Lack of in-person interaction and focus on social comparison can make children feel left out and lonely. Social media is highly integrated into the fabric of teen life, and therefore it is important to help your child interact with it in a healthy instead of harmful manner.
Things That Parents Can Do to Help Their Teens
- Encourage your child to use texts, Facetime or other mechanism where they interact with peers in real time. Also encourage the use of these tools to make in-person plans.
- Be a model for your child and avoid oversharing on social media. If you post about your child, make sure that you ask them if it is okay before making the post to demonstrate responsible posting practices.
- Discuss with your child what makes for an appropriate vs. inappropriate post. Explain that all posts cannot be taken back once made because screenshots and sharing make it difficult to entirely delete a post from the online world.
- Remind your teen that people are more likely to share the good than the bad, especially on social media. A life that seems perfect on Instagram does not reflect reality.
- Both online and offline, it’s important to foster your teen’s self-esteem by supporting their positive inner qualities rather than promoting likes and followers.
For more tips on helping teens create a healthy balance of social connections, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.