Does Social Media Make you Anxious and Is It Killing Young People’s Dreams?
This grabbed my attention as I listened to a radio program where they were talking about a child who hang herself because she was bullied on Snapchat by her peers.
As a mother to a teenage son and now a young adult woman, I can say I have walked the tight rope of being a too strict mom, a Godzilla and best friend wrapped in one often times unwelcome package for my children.
Yet I know that package has kept them focused on what matters and hopefully grow into their life purpose! And also I have come to see Social media as a Blessing, as opposed to what some people call “The devil’s tool!”
I know it is a Blessing by the grace!
But, What Is Social Media Anxiety?
According to experts, it is similar to Social Anxiety Disorder and is a mental health problem. With Social media anxiety, just being away from a social media platform e.g. Snapchat, Facebook, twitter etc. can cause severe anxiety and panic!
Or feelings of Distress related to the use of social media!
People with social anxiety disorder are very prone to this phenomenon and it doesn’t discriminate between young or old. Parent or child.
New research by the Priory Group suggests, that websites/apps like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are fueling anxiety among parents… So, the problem is not limited to children or young people!
But how do they create the anxiety, after all these sites are meant to be social platforms, building community and accessed by people above the age of 15. In other words young adults and full-grown adults?
Weird thing is, a 15-year-old is not considered able and adult enough to stay on their own by law in UK. Why then would the law allow these platforms to lower the adult age to 15. Accepting them as old enough to handle digital content that could be harmful to their mental well being?
THAT IS WHAT Triggers anxiety in the parents…
Parents cannot control what their children can see or are fed on these platforms. Peer pressure means parents are driven to give their children things like mobile phones…to keep up with the Johnses or for personal communication and safety! This was our case.
That’s why I literally was always the Godzilla on my children accessing these platforms. I had their login details as well… Yep don’t judge!
With stories of teenagers self harming because their so called friends didn’t like their posts enough or have been nasty to them on social media…YET they still keep going back and panic when their phone is taken away…A parent had to take note!
Could you have Social Media Anxiety?
CAUTION: Understand that we are NOT Mental Health experts. If you feel anxious, you cannot sleep, heart racing or palpitations, feeling breathless, mind racing or disoriented. Or however your anxiety is manifesting and you are truly worried. Please seek medical advice immediately!
What we share here are personal research, plus experience as parents. And I Julie Syl did go through a phase in my life when I definitely had some challenges. Facebook became the platform I went to hide and Not take control of my life, but also a source of some kind of anxiety. I would panic if I didn’t wake up in time to post and play Zynga games, which I was playing against other people globally…Crazy huh!
Thank goodness for Paul who grounded me and helped me get through that phase. It wasn’t easy coz I was in denial of the addiction!
So, here is what we know and have noticed… Some people cannot handle the unrealistic expectations of fun and family life that many people expose on social media. This is what Social media presents:
Many people show photos of themselves living the life, some cal it the Laptop lifestyle. Photos like they are always on vacation, eating out, in exotic places,… Having fun with no care in the world, etc. Best foot forward and all that jazz…
Of course, everyone wants to put their best foot forward! Yet over 5/10 parents feel inadequate when faced with images of picture-perfect families from their so called “friends” on facebook.
Some feel positively depressed…like they cannot ever achieve that. People share photos, blog posts, and videos, with hashtags like #babygoals #bodygoals #familygoals #hubbygoals #wifeygoals #instakid #instababy etc…
These too add to the feeling of inadequacy for many people… I am not saying people shouldn’t share their fun lives, after all I do right here on Pkjulesworld too!
I am saying that sadly, others may not be able to handle it…
They may just feel like “They are not good enough!” Example: If someone took ages to respond to my private message, that got me anxious. So instead of calling the person up and we chat, I’d be feeling like maybe they are upset with me for some reason. OR worse still, they may be judging me because I dont have a job! This was me, I used to feel like that circa 2010-2012! I did talk about this inside of my book “Journey Without Limits.” Instead I cooked, stuffed my face, I cleaned hard, I played Zinga games on facebook and Prayed like crazy…!
So understand that, however helpful a post or blog maybe, its been reported that over perfect airbrushed images and posts have lead to increase in depression and feelings of inadequacy by many parents!
IMAGINE what that could do to a young, often times insecure teenager, allowed to be on social media?
Parents want to be the perfect parent…Question is, what does perfection as a parent look like?
Pretending to be coping is just wrong.Question is, what does perfection as a parent look like? Click To Tweet
With Facebook live video, Instagram TV, YouTube live-streaming, Snapchat airbrushed perfect photos etc. more people feel the need to show up looking like Beyoncé on social media.
Personally, having gone through what I did. I prefer to show up as Me…No filters, no extra special effort, just Julie Syl helping people change their lives!
See, I am so grateful for being a Mom who also works from home. Isn’t it an amazing thing? Therefor, allow me to share a realistic picture of parenting and work at home balance.
I know it is achievable to have that balance and not feel suicidal because Mrs Jones shared her images of her vacay in Barbados and shows up in live videos like she just walked off Vogue magazine…
That’s not normal life and that’s not how Mrs Johns lives her life, we should understand this! That way we can avoid social media anxiety!
I totally appreciate that parenting can be challenging for many who find it overwhelming, exhausting and even stressful. (It doesn’t come with a How-To Book for most does it, duh.)
So, for many experience is the rough teacher. And comparing themselves to others is the killer!
Today allow me to share my experience as a mom of two; how I have been able so far to keep my children grounded and not become social media anxiety victims!
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How to Help your Child to AVOID becoming a Social Media Anxiety Victim
Since we as parents are happy to gift our children smart digital gadgets like mobile phones. We have to know they will download FREE APPS like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Messenger, WhatsApp etc.
So how about you….
#1. Be the Parent and Friend they May Not appreciate today!
As a parent who knows how deep the Social Media addiction and rabbit hole could go. And the anxiety that comes with feeling crappy every day…
I insisted that they add me as a friend on any platform they are. I didn’t care what they thought. For me, their personal safety and mental health is better than a hurt ego!
Every evening I would visit their special platforms and check out what they posted and also see what they have been tagged in!
In my humble view, I am the parent here to guide, support and help them grow into a happy, balanced, healthy individual. So are you my friend!
Stop wanting to be your child’s peer. And BE the parent; if you allow them on social media platforms, monitor their actions.Stop wanting to be your child’s peer. And BE the parentClick To Tweet
#2. Monitor their Internet access.
Daily at 9pm anyone under the age of 18 is Internet off and lights out! Our children did not get phones till they were 14. Even then, purely as communication tools for after school activities!
No internet access on the phones, i.e. no “data bundles.” They could only access the internet on the home Wi-Fi!
Meaning we are able to limit the time they are online and what they get to see or share.
Understand that they also have extracurricular activities 4 days a week! Yes, I am willing to pick and drop for their own peace of mind! So this may be had for a single parent, unless they work from home or do shift work!
The lesson was embedded so deep our daughter goes for footie, tennis, high jump even now as a university student…after class! She can drive now thank goodness and sometimes picks and drops her brother!
This brings me to the next tip….
#3. Get your Children Busy OFFLINE!
Now it doesn’t have to cost you a penny in extra curricular activities. If you get to be at home at school pick up time, take your child to the pack and run, ride a bike, create fun games you can play together at home for at least 30 mins. Exercise for you too …yippee! 😊 Then it’s time to take that shower//bath and do some homework together right?
Prepare dinner together talk about their school day, what was fun or good about it, always encourage them to find good in their day. If anything bummed them out, ask what it was, WHY they felt that way. How else could they look at it…
Get them to find it easy to talk to you and share their experiences with you. You become their go to person their trusted friend… while being a boss parent too!
Become your children's go to person, their trusted friend…Click To Tweet
Don’t judge them. LISTEN or they will talk to someone who doesn’t have their best interest at heart, yet pretends to listen on Social media!
We also got our children involved in faith based activities at our local Parish! That has been a Godsend, because they love serving and growing in their faith! This may not be for you…It worked for us!
#4. For Parents who work long Days
If you are at work every day all day when your children are out of school. It can be difficult.
I know because for 8 years our children went to child minders or after school clubs! Often times from 8am to 6pm during holidays!
Here is what we did then:
Before we chose a minder or club, we asked to be shown the activities our children would be exposed to that stimulate their minds or got their body moving.
We always asked the minder to NOT let them sit and be minded by the TV. We were mindful of what they watched so we liked to make sure they weren’t exposed to stuff we hadn’t vetted! .
It was one of the criteria for choosing a minder.
Of course, I understand that some parents get what child minding help they can get for free. So, you cannot dictate what your child gets to see or do…
We cannot say much on this front other than you still get to decide if that is the best place your child can stay and be safe mentally and physically.
How about you connect with parents of similar values and child age ranges and Do a child care-share! That way you get to be with your child and see how they relate with other children in your presence. You get to see what they see/do away from home coz that is what they will ask to do/see at home too.
Again, man up. Limit TV/Internet/Social media Access time. Until all essential school, and physically exhaustive activities are done… Hide the remote, do whatever it takes. At that point they are tired and are not that into Social media. And your bed time Curfew kicks in lol…
We didn’t get a Smart TV with all the internet access such give…Just a basic TV. I know tough love huh!
Well it worked for us!
What can you do as A Parent to Avoid Social Media Anxiety!
NOTE: Once again, I emphasize, we’re not psychiatrists or mental health experts. These are tips we use as parents to help us and our children stay sane off and online. Especially as it is a vital part of our Kalungi group coaching and Lifestyle brands today.
In the past I didn’t really think about what I post on social media until I noticed my children’s interest in was going on on certain platforms. Paul and I had to do something.
As an active Social Media user and marketer, I am now more mindful of what I do online. I am aware that:
a single like, comment or share can cause a dopamine spike in my brain…that Feel Good factor. It can be Addictive! Thus it also can cause anxiety if the good responses don’t appear or you get negative feedback instead! Imagine what this could do to an insecure teenager?
Surprisingly, research has shown that passive users aka scrollers and observers get it worse!
This is because you are exposed to a barrage of images and videos that are not realistic, which can knock your confidence hard! So, don’t be a social media by stander, be active or go home.
Seriously, either get in and engage with those you truly care about, learn from or empower. Or stay away from social media completely! Go cold turkey!
Here is what I did and DO to stay sane and grounded even though I use social media platforms as business tools and Market place!
#1. I have Morning Routine that must have these 3 things!
- MINDFULNESS – to center me and keep me calm through the day! I meditate Daily!
- MOVEMENT – to raise my body metabolism and heart energy. I Exercise for at least 30 mins 5 days a week!
- LEARNING – to feed my soul and brain the right food. I Read, Tune in to a book, training, or course daily!
I take scheduled breaks from the digital space every 60-90 minutes to tap into the above top 2 and re-center myself as well as raise my body metabolism!
Movement can be as simple as standing up while on the phone and walking round the room, or go to kitchen and make a cuppa whole dancing to some tune on YouTube from my playlist, you can use it too!
Mindfulness is as simple as taking 5 deep breaths in, hold for 5 counts and breath out for five…I repeat five times. Takes less than 2 mins. I check in with myself if I ma still on track for that day’s Main Task and et back to work. And…
I am always Learning. 😉
When I am on holiday I stay away from social media either completely or for hours on end. Unless I wish to do a quick live video to inspire others or a quick post for same reasons!
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#2. Build Real Friendships offline and get active too.
If you are busy LIVING your life, you will not be mesmerized by people’s pseudo or even make-believe lives on social media! Try and connect with your friends offline and other parents in your local area.
Agree meetups to get to know each other. Much easier if your children go to the same school and/or are age mates.
Join Meetups for real in your hobby, interest or niche. Attend the meetups and make new friends in real life. I am part of 2 Law of Attraction Meetups in Liverpool! I have made some great friends.
You can go on rambles, biking, meals out, dancing, book reads etc. In other words create a life off social media!
Indeed keep active; go on marathons, exercise together, life gets much more Fun in the real-world analogue space! 😉
#3. You could even do charity together.
A fab way to take the focus off of you onto others who need you. There is always someone or a charity to help out. We love Zoe’s Hospice here in West Derby!
This is very important because it’s been proven that Social media encourages narcissistic, self-obsessed mindsets. So, if you focus on others in more need than you, you also show your children a better way.
You counter loneliness and depression. You raise your vibrations to better feel good thoughts. And you stay sane!Social media encourages narcissistic, self-obsessed mindsets.Click To Tweet
As they say, you are the CEO of your life so Delete, Demote or Fire accordingly! This will free you from drama queens, fake people, and those you constantly compare yourself to who do not empower, educate or entertain you!
Understand that if you get anxious every time you visit a specific social profile…that is a RED FLAG. It means its NOT meant to be your jam. Do the needful and Delete, Relegate or Unsubscribe.
Advise your children and encourage them to do this too!
Bonus Tip: Invest in Self-development and Mentorship
If you are busy improving your skills and self, you won’t have time to be anxious about so-n-so’s baby-liscious images , or their seemingly perfect life on holiday 24/7. That’s Social media, its not real life, even Beyonce gets to work! 😉
Nor will you be pulled to Live chats about depressing subjects where the presenter either looks like they just stepped off a TV Set. Or they are totally UNQUALIFIED to guide you in that topic!
Choose a subject you may like to improve on, Find coaching on or offline. Invest in a Coach and Add Value to you and guess what, you just might get paid even more at work. #kerching!
And as my friend Kathleen Ahern of the Blogger’s Lifestyle recently pointed out:
Don't be a travel agent for Guilt Trips.Click To Tweet
“Don’t be a travel agent for Guilt Trips.”
Allow us to leave you with this word to the wise:
Protect your Mental and Emotional Space and state, More so, protect your Children from Social Media Anxiety!
Hope you got some value today. Be sure that, this post will be updated as we learn more on how to protect our minds and life from digital and social media anxiety. So, keep checking. Have your say below, have you ever experienced Social media Anxiety? How did you fix You?
See, Do Be More
Julie Syl and Pauli
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