The Pressure of Being Plugged In

The Pressure of Being Plugged In

Is your teen feeling pressure to stay “plugged in?”

American teenagers are spending about nine hours on average with digital media every day. That’s more time than teens spend sleeping, or at school. Teens are more plugged in today than ever before, and much of the time they spend in front of screens is spent browsing and posting to social media. Unfortunately, the compulsion for teens to constantly check their social media does not come without negative consequences.


Why are teens checking their social media accounts so much?

According to a study by CNN, teens check their phones frequently because they’re anxious about what is happening online when they’re not there. From seeing if their posts are getting likes and comments, to making sure friends aren’t having fun without them, teens feel a pressure to constantly check in online.

Teens who are heavy social media users are checking on their accounts more than 100 times a day; at home, at school and even when they should be sleeping. For teenagers today, the online world is just as important as their world off the screen.


What effect is this having on teens?

Teens who heavily use social media frequently find themselves feeling left out or lonely, and many worry about what others think of them to the point they have difficulty sleeping. CNN’s study showed that lurking (checking social media without posting) significantly relates to teen distress levels.

On social media, people typically communicate with far less empathy than in real life, opening up the door for cyberbullying and online abuse. Teens are still evolving and growing in their emotional intelligence, and the way they communicate with one another online could have implications on how they learn to communicate with one another offline.


What you can do:

Avoid trying to cut your teen off from social media altogether. Abruptly cutting teens off from social media altogether can cause digital anxiety, and teens may lash out in other ways due to the pressure to fit in or the pressure to have a digital presence. There are many ways for teens to have a positive experience online. Social media is a great place to connect with friends, give support to others, and feel support in return. CNN’s study on social media use also showed that consistent parental monitoring of social media accounts, "effectively erased the negative effects of online conflicts.” Instead of banning your teen from using social media, engage with them about how they are using the platforms.

Find ways to engage your teen offline - Take advantage of the fact you didn’t grow up in a generation with ready access to WIFI and show your teen all the fun things you used to do when you were their age – smartphone-free. From seeing a movie, to spending time in nature or scouting out new and exciting places to grab a bite to eat, there are many ways to have a great time offline. Create opportunities for your teen to spend time with their friends in-person. They don’t need to worry about breaking a Snapchat streak when their friends are right there with them.

Overall, it’s important to recognize that social media has made the way teens live and socialize today vastly different from the generations that came before them. By engaging with your teen about social media use and keeping an eye on how much they’re using social media, you can help to counteract some of the negative effects that occur from spending too much time online.




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