What can parents do about social media and stress?
Watch out for signs that your child might be struggling with stress. According to Dr Adam Abdelnoor, child psychologist and director of the charity Inaura
, symptoms in children include headaches, worrying, complaining of stomach aches and sickness that comes and goes.
‘Find a way to engage in what they’re doing with social media and digital technology,’ says Adam, ‘whether that’s playing an online game with them or getting them to show you what they are doing and posting.’
Adam also says it’s important to talk and listen to children, to treat them like they’re on an equal level.
This is the approach parents of three Emily and Rob are taking with their children Evie (14), Woody (11) and Ben (8).
‘All three have Instagram accounts – we do check what they’re up to and chat about what they might have seen or what they post, but so far any friends they have are approved by us,’ explains Emily.
‘Ben uses his account to post pictures of his drawings and beloved dogs, Woody (a keen football player) posts his sporting achievements, and both boys follow sports players and accounts of friends. Evie never posts unless to say happy birthday to a friend, but when she first created a profile, she posted a photo of her looking very made up – I discussed this with her and she has not posted anything like it since.’
A recent survey by The Children's Society
found that the self-esteem of girls is especially impacted by their use of social media. Over a third (38%) of young people said that social media has a negative impact on the way they feel about themselves, while almost half (46%) of girls stated this.
A lot of this impact comes from the peer pressure they feel to present themselves and their lives as perfect, according to a survey by Girlguiding
. Over a third (35%) of girls aged 11–21 ‘say that comparing themselves and their lives to others was one of their major worries about the amount of time spent online’.
By talking to their children early, Emily and Rob have encouraged social media use that is less likely to negatively affect them.