Monday, March 10, 2014

Social Media for Teens: "It's Complicated!"

Image Credits: "Study: What teens feel about social media and privacy." MSN

**This article, written by Beth Holzhauer, is in response to the article "Online, Researcher Says, Teens Do What They've Always Done" by Elizabeth Blair, originally posted on NPR. Read the original article here.**

Parents often find themselves negotiating a new and challenging terrain when their children become teenagers.  Good enough parenting requires relating, understanding, guiding, mentoring and teaching, which is quite a tall order when talking about today’s tech savvy teen.  How do parents increase the interpersonal IQ of adolescent children in the age of Facebook, texting, tweeting and snap chat?  Today’s parent is often crossing uncharted lands, trying to guide their teen child through the necessary communication and relational skills in the world of social networking. 

This piece on danah boyd’s research and book, It’s Complicated:  The Social Lives of Networked Teens, offers insight into the lives of teens and their use of social media.  It is a GPS of sorts to help parents navigate this new land of technology.  As a therapist to many teens and families, I share “the kids are alright” stance, and believe that the information danah shares helps parents understand and bridge a generational divide. 

Image Credits: "Online Bullying Rampant Among Teens, Survey Finds," Fox

I also believe that social media poses possible snares and dangers to teens.  Cyberbullying is a very real and damaging product of the misuse of social media.  Being able to reach an audience of thousands with cruel words, threats or gossip can produce traumatic results.  There are also the minor infractions and relational wounds of miscommunication, which occur more frequently when conversations are relayed via text.  When a teen’s online relationships substitute for more emotionally intimate friendships, the capacity to experience genuine connection and community may be compromised.

There are certainly both potentials and pitfalls for teens and their parents in the world of social networking.  As danah said, it’s complicated!

On March 16th, Beth will be presenting a workshop on supporting teenagers called Watch Me Soar. The workshop is designed for girls ages 13-18 who wish to learn how to actively build their self esteem. Please click here and then click on "Watch Me Soar: Resiliency and Self-Esteem Building for Teen Girls" for more information on that workshop.

**Do you agree? Disagree? Have some insights to add to this article? We would love for you to leave us a comment below! You are now able to comment completely anonymously if you would like to share your wisdom but aren't comfortable with your identity being shared. Just type your comments in the box below and then click on the box next to "Comment as" and choose "Anonymous!"**

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