Instagram for Teens

Chances are, you know about Instagram because your teen is already on it. If you aren’t aware, this social-media site allows users to upload and edit pictures directly from their phone or tablet, making it easy to share images from their lives in a flash. While sharing pictures isn’t always a bad thing, it reduces social-media interaction to its most damaging elements: posting pictures and hoping to receive likes.

Studies have shown that the self-esteem of many young women is strongly based on receiving positive attention on social media. If this attention doesn’t come, or worse, if Instagram is used as a tool for bullying, the effects can be devastating.

Why is Social Media so Damaging?

The social aspects of the teen years were already complicated enough before we introduced online tools with uses that are nuanced and often perfect for acts of passive aggression. Remember Myspace’s “top friends” feature? Was it really good for any of us to rank our friends in public view, adjusting those rankings as people pleased or angered us over time?

Some might say that we shouldn’t take a silly ranking system on social media that seriously, which is true. However, these days, social media is real life to teens and most adults. Aside from being an environment where young people feel pressured to post the hottest selfies, Instagram also feeds cliques and cultivates loneliness for those who aren’t included.

Is Social Media Destroying Your Teen’s Self-image?

In 2013, plastic surgeons saw an increase in the demand for facial reconstruction in young people, and experts believe that image-based social media is to blame. If your teen is addicted to Instagram, it’s time to set some limits. It’s reasonable for teens to want to use social media. It’s our job as parents to make sure they don’t abuse it.

Don’t be afraid to:

  • Take the phone away until dinner and homework is complete.
  • Talk with your teen about his or her experiences on social media.
  • Discuss healthy body image with your teen and explain how social media forces us to look at ourselves with more criticism than ever before.
  • Promote activities that encourage positive self-image, such as art, athletics, charitable work and music.
  • Block certain apps, such as Instagram, from your teen’s phone if they cause a problem.

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