Building Confidence in the Age of Social Media
Social media is so prominent in everyone’s life nowadays, with new socializing sites popping up every other day, that not only is it hard to keep up with the means of online socialization and platforms, but it is also a real challenge to manage all the interactions acquired all across social media. Even more so when the interactions have a mixed nature, either beneficial for the social media user, or toxic, created by cyberbullying.
As such, building and improving a sense of confidence in the age of social media can prove to be rather difficult in certain situations and environments, especially for younger audiences, who are more influenceable and more sensitive to all sorts of outside opinions, trends, and feedback of various natures. Social media can even unknowingly help build a false sense of confidence sometimes when the child reaches out to the media outlets in order to gain validation either from friends they keep in touch with there or from random strangers who take an interest in talking to them or ‘following’ them for their posted content. As such, it’s better to keep a certain level of emotional detachment when diving into the social media platforms, to avoid getting too hooked up on attention received there.
However, since teenagers should be able to maintain a social life outside of the internet as well, here are a few ways on how to help build their confidence even with the mixed influence of social media surrounding them.
1. Be vocal about your appreciation of your child
It might seem like something everyone should be aware of and should practice, but you would be surprised how hard it is for some parents to remember that their child still needs their validation, now more than ever before, while going through the new developmental stages. The more you help them build an efficient and sturdy base of self-confidence, the fewer issues they will struggle within their social life, and it’s a great way to help improve their sense of independence as well. The more confident they are, the more inclined they will be to address matters without requiring assistance.
2. Educate them against the unnecessary competition
It’s much easier for children to gain a better sense of confidence when their efforts are acknowledged and when their victories are praised. However, it’s also important to support them and lift them up in times when they feel defeated, or when things just didn’t go as planned. There’s no use in comparing them to classmates or other kids their age if it’s only made as an attempt to shame or scold their failures, as it will really minimize the sense of self-worth they have, not only for themselves, but also the way they perceive themselves as being appreciated by their own parent(s). It’s very easy for a child to slip into the mindset of regarding themselves as ‘not good enough’, especially in their early development.
Instead, focus on supporting them and motivating them for better results whenever they stumble around. Teach them to work to be enough for themselves and be satisfied with their results, not to be praised for being better than others. With social media being such a huge presence in children and teenagers’ lives now, comparing themselves to others already comes pretty easily to them, either because of their own insecurities or because of the pressure put on them by other teens in their group of friends. Selfies, party photos, holiday trip snaps – teens plaster every little thing across social media sites sometimes, and if a child develops too many insecurities because of their family’s influence then it’s easy for any admiration towards their friends and the peers they interact with to turn into envy and jealousy. That’s another topic you should educate your child on too – the influence of social media circles.
3. Social media circles influence and awareness
Cyberbullying is possibly one of the most widely spread terms that can come to mind when socialization on various websites comes up in discussions about the negative effects of online interaction. However, most of the time teens tend to disregard the whole rule against creating conflict online, especially if they’re at the beginning of their journey through social media sites and are dealing with online conflict for the first time.
And because of the ever-changing trends, up and coming challenges and even the changing circle of friends, teens are under a constant pressure to fit in and please the people surrounding them. It’s easy for them to allow themselves to be influenced by a new “fad” (also known as, yet another trend) when they seek their peers’ validation and may feel like they aren’t seen as cool or worthy of having a larger group of friends if they don’t gain popularity by following the trends. Because of that, younger users of social media tend to lose their confidence much faster when they feel left behind or unable to keep up with their friends and the latest crazes, as teasing or neglecting from their peers may happen, be it in online settings or in public.
A solution to preventing cyberbullying from happening to your child can be that to teach them beforehand that they shouldn’t allow themselves to grow dependent on the validation received online, and that trends and challenges are never here to stay forever, so there’s little to no use in trying to constantly keep up with every new fad. Encourage them to develop their own, unique sense of fashion style instead, so clothing trends won’t faze them so much to the point where they may feel inclined to change their whole wardrobe and identity just to fit a mold, and teach them that not all internet challenges bring social benefits – especially not the ill-intended ones.
All in all, raising awareness about the dangers social challenges or trends pose is always a wise action for parents to take, and it helps to install a sense of responsibility in the young teenager as well.