Teens' Social Media Use!

Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook… So now you know the major social media platforms, but now what? Many parents come in my office confused about their adolescent’s social media use. Questions such as, “Is it okay for them?” “Is it hurting them?” “Should I be monitoring their use?” are frequently asked. Well the short answer is “yes” for all of the questions, but the long answer is a bit more complicated. I am a very research based clinician; I trust my gut, but share what research reports the most. After reading and studying different research articles and case studies the verdict shows that research regarding adolescent social media use is inconsistent! One article notes that Facebook makes people lonely while another contradicts the finding and speaks on how social media helps adolescents who would otherwise not be connected to others.

One positive that case studies have noted is the ability for adolescents to form identity through social media use. Similarly, one of the consistencies regarding social media and adolescent usage in research is the benefits for vulnerable adolescents to connect with others. For instance, adolescents with gender identity issues have been shown to use social media for a safe place to cope and connect with others.

Okay, let’s be honest, social media isn’t all rainbows and sunshine; there are true risks that come with it. For example, one study found that the more time that adolescents spent on social media, the more they engaged in binge drinking. Another downfall that research has shown is that increased social media use can increase risk for depressive symptoms, stress, and social anxiety. Okay, deep breaths parents. Let me tell you a secret in the field that we actually would like to shout from roof tops, CORRELATIONS DO NOT EQUAL CAUSATION!!! This means just because there is a link between two things, does not mean that one causes the other. However, this finding is a good reminder for most things in life, balance is key!

Overall parents, the research is mixed. That is why I said all the answers are true. Yes, social media is good. Yes, social media is bad. And most importantly, yes, it should be monitored. Remember with most things in life, moderation is key. Adolescents need a parent’s guidance. Allow moderate use, but make sure to monitor their use. If you are having concerns regarding your child’s social media use, emotions, or behaviors, give us a call. We’d love to help support you and your family!

Written by Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S

Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing counseling and diagnostic evaluations for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, evaluations, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting www.heightsfamilycounseling.com and read more about her services http://heightsfamilycounseling.com/services-1/