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Is Your Child’s Self-Esteem a Social Media Problem?

Social Media and Kids

Social media can impact kids of many ages

Social media has an enormous impact on all children, socially as well as emotionally. However, for children who struggle with self-esteem issues social media can be troublesome – and even dangerous. Kids, of any age, that do not believe in themselves, who have low self-confidence and who do not see themselves as being special, are emotionally vulnerable. They enter into the social media arena with different needs, hopes and expectations. And their response to the interactions will be different too. Let’s explore this further.

Emotionally vulnerable, insecure children are at risk for posting inappropriate content on social networking sites because:

  1. They have a strong need to be liked by others. They need validation and may post unsuitable content as a way of gaining attention and approval.
  2. They may attempt to build a desired identity by pretending to be what they really are not – to appear to be ‘cool.’
Depressed Teen

Social media can contribute to feelings of low self-esteem

A child that has self-esteem issues will often view the world from an, I’m not OK: You’re OK position. They tend to compare themselves with others and usually conclude that others are smarter, happier, better looking and more popular than they are. Then when they join the social media sites, they make comparisons and again perceive their peers as having more friends than they have and as living a more exciting, happier, fun-filled life, than theirs. These perceptions are the result of their I’m not OK: You’re OK belief and can lead to increased feelings of inadequacy, withdrawal and even depression.

What can parents do?

Be aware of signs of social media stress

Facebook Depression is a new diagnosis that has recently been cited by psychologist and psychiatrists.  Be vigilant for signs of insecurity, withdrawal and even depression that could be triggered or aggravated by your child’s social media activities.

Know your child

Look for signs of inadequacy in your child. Does your child try too hard to please? Is he or she always anxious about what others think? It is not a good idea to be in denial if you think your child is grappling with poor self confidence. Hoping they will grow out of it is not a useful strategy. There are countless reasons why a child may be insecure, have low self-esteem or be emotionally vulnerable. In most cases the vulnerability is caused by a combination of both psychological and physiological stress that need to be identified and treated.

Keep virtual tabs on your kids

Know which social media sites your child uses. Research shows that while teenagers are still active in the social media their parents know, they are now looking for privacy by going to a whole new generation of sites and apps that their parents often don’t know about.

Make the social media conversation a harmonious one

Parents walk a fine line between how to monitor their kids’ online activity and keep them safe without being stifling or intrusive. It is important to explain to your children why you are monitoring their social media activity but it is equally important to have this conversation in a way that is not an argument or a punishment but rather a shared agreement. In this discussion agree on some boundaries. What you as a parent will and will not do and the same for the kids.

Have this discussion in such a way that they get the message that you are doing this because you love them and want to protect them, without you having to repeatedly say this to them.


Dr. Sandy Glucksman

Dr. Sandy Gluckman is a Health and Behavior Specialist. She consults with parents that have children with learning, behavior and mood challenges, offering a drug-free program to heal these problems. She has just published a new book:  “Parents, Take CHARGE:  Healing learning, behavior and mood challenges without medication.” Her book is available on her website www.parentstakecharge.com or on Amazon.

6 replies
  1. Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families
    Christy Garrett @ Uplifting Families says:

    This is a great post and I have written several posts on children and social media. Most teens are naive and don’t always realize the dangers online. Depression is also a huge problem among teens, not just online but even at school. Kids today are faced with so many forms of peer pressure.

      • Helena
        Helena says:

        I don’t know if you realize how snarky your comment sounds. It implies that psychologists are looking for new business opportunities to personally profit from issues arising from a changing world. That is a very cynical view and undermines the very real problem of the effect of social media on children today, and the need for psychologists to begin addressing it. I’m not a therapist or anything like that, but in my experience those people go into the field because they want to help people; not make a buck. I think this is a great article and I’m glad I came across it. It has some very helpful points and is a must-read for all parents, aunts and anyone who cares about children. This is the first generation to grow up with social media and I wonder how it is affecting their social and personal development. I do not usually post comments on websites, but felt the need to respond to this one, as no one had.

        • Hayley Kaplan
          Hayley Kaplan says:

          Helena, I can see why you interpreted my comment the way you did and I recognize that it was not worded okay.

          Thanks for commenting. It’s always a good reminder for me and for others to think before we write.



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