Helping Your Teen Develop Healthy Attachments in the Age of Social Media

Social media is a massive aspect of the modern teenager’s lifestyle. While this can be a good thing, it is not free from problems. Teenagers use social media to connect, but they need to know the risks of social media and what to be aware of when scrolling.

Social media is not always engaging with things they’re interested in and chatting with best friends. Numerous risks come with having an online presence. As a parent, it can be challenging to help your teen use social media positively. Social media use can benefit your teen, but how often they use it, how they absorb information, what they post, and how it makes them feel can affect them.

Talking With Your Teen About Social Media

If your teenage daughter is on social media, talk about what she may see, what is appropriate to post, and who she is talking to. Depending on her age, you may want to restrict access to ensure her safety.

Social media has many mental and physical dangers. While social media can serve as a platform for communicating with friends or for entertainment, those benefits have the potential to take a turn. Speaking with your teen about these dangers may make you both feel awkward. You don’t want to lecture your child about something they enjoy, but you want to educate them so they can enjoy social media while being aware of the risks.

The attachments a teenager makes, even through social media, heavily impact her life. Teenagers create emotional bonds to people online without knowing them or directly interacting with them. Hence, understanding attachment theory and the importance of making healthy connections and avoiding or rerouting unhealthy ones is vital.

As a parent, you must understand why social media is popular with teenagers. Before limiting your child’s screen time, try understanding their generation’s norms. Social media offers teens connection, identity, awareness, and social status. All of these things can have positive and negative aspects, but they have been a crucial part of teens’ lives for decades. They just look different now with the prevalence of the internet.

It is normal to worry about your daughter using social media. Rather than controlling her use, talk with her and work together to find a safe and healthy way to manage the good and the bad of social media.

Some topics to bring up with your teenagers include:

  • Who they are talking to online
  • What apps they are using
  • Why they like social media
  • What they and you believe is a fair and appropriate amount of time on social media
  • How certain accounts or apps make them feel in general or about themselves
  • How they can change their posting and viewing behaviors to make social media a more positive outlet

Work with your teen to maintain an open dialogue. Talk with them about who they follow and interact with. Remind them not to internalize negative or slanderous comments. Explain to them that the number of views or likes they get does not define their worth. Posting should be for enjoyment and creativity.

Encourage your teenager to come to you if they find using social media makes them feel less self-confident, depressed, or unworthy. Set limits on social media use and adjust how your teen uses it to ensure they can absorb the positive aspects while avoiding the harmful ones.

Guiding Your Teen’s Social Media Use

Try not to be controlling, as this may cause your teen to fight you on how or when they have access to social media. However, limits are critical, so set clear guidelines for social media use. Make sure your child knows the rules, why you are making them, and the consequences for breaking them.

To start:

  • Help them to set up their accounts
  • Let them know you want to help guide them on what to share and follow
  • Make this a team effort so they don’t feel like you and their social presence are separate

They can have more independence as they learn social media etiquette and begin understanding how to get the best out of social media.

Many cellular companies allow parental controls to limit screen time. You may want to set daily time limits on certain apps or set your child’s phone to be locked down during family meals, after bedtime, or while they are doing school work. This will help them separate their focus and prioritize what’s most important.

Being Mindful of Social Media Posting and Scrolling

Being intentional when using social media and being mindful of all social media activity is vital. As humans, we absorb everything, and this is especially true for teens. Teens will see edited photos, rude comments, and false information online, and it can permeate their minds, leading to anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues.

When teens begin to mindlessly scroll through photos and videos, they take in all the good and bad, often without realizing the dangers. Encouraging your teen to only use their social media apps for their intended purposes or to only follow accounts that bring them joy, inspiration, or fun, is critical. Social media should be a fun and creative outlet for your teen, not somewhere they feel left out, unpopular, or embarrassed. If they are not enjoying their time on social media, let them know they can delete the apps and return to them when they can be more mindful about the content they consume.

Although unlikely in today’s culture, it is worth mentioning that no one needs to have an online presence. Your teen can use social media to chat with friends and see the latest movies. They don’t need to post themselves or follow people they don’t know.

At Havenwood Academy, we are focused on ensuring young girls grow into confident and successful young women. We pride ourselves on the tools we use to incorporate confidence boosting throughout our curriculum and treatment program. This doesn’t stop at our doors. The bond between parents and teenagers is essential to a teenage girl’s development, and we incorporate family therapy to aid this connection. With social media being so prominent in their lives, parents need to stay involved in their teens’ online activities. Keeping an open dialogue regarding intentionality and awareness about social media’s dangers and intended uses is critical to your teenager developing happiness on the internet rather than anxiety. If you are unsure about your teen’s internet activity, reach out to us for more guidance. We are here to help your daughter and your family. Call us now at (435) 586-2500 for help.


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