Helping Your Daughter Navigate Social Media
It’s hard enough to navigate social media as an adult. Many of us start feeling envious of others’ lives and experience self-doubt. Even one image can lead us to question everything from our weight to our worth, from our career choices to our day-to-day routines. We know the images are highly curated and captions are carefully selected, but that doesn’t stop us from getting sucked in. We also might feel hurt by insensitive comments and let “likes” dictate our mood (and our self-worth).
So it makes sense that social media would be even trickier for teens—who are in the thick of emotional and physical changes, in the thick of trying to figure out who they are.
“Social media is so incredibly powerful at influencing one’s sense of self, especially for young girls,” said Emmy Kleine, a licensed psychotherapist, specializing in the treatment of adolescents and young adults in her private practice in Brooklyn.
Social media teaches girls that appearance is everything. They learn to judge themselves and others based on photos and number of likes. They learn to constantly compare themselves and to compete. Which “gives girls a very shallow and fragile sense of self-worth. “
Many of Kleine’s clients struggle with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem because of social media. They have to deal with online bullying, which comes in many forms: Other girls reveal their deepest secrets, and send malicious messages. Kleine once worked with a girl whose classmate made a hurtful comment about her acne, which other classmates could see. She was humiliated and devastated.
Psychotherapist Alyson Cohen, LCSW, who specializes in working with teens and young adults, also has seen bullying at her practice. Most commonly, someone will “subtweet” her client, “leaving a comment that is passive aggressively bullying them and others either respond or like it.” This has caused her clients to feel isolated and depressed and to anxiously monitor their social media.
Another common consequence Cohen sees at her practice is girls feeling excluded from social activities. “Many arguments and feelings of resentment have been caused by seeing images of their friends doing fun things together that they were not invited to.”
Kleine has worked with girls who’ve been pressured to send nude photos. Art therapist and licensed professional counselor Rachael Morgan has too. Some of these girls have sent photos using Snapchat, an app that deletes images after 10 seconds or 24 hours. However, users can still take a screen shot of the photo, and upload it anywhere.