Let’s face it: social media is here to stay. 95 percent of teens use social media on a regular basis. As a mom of three young adults (two sons and one daughter), I have come to the conclusion that social media is, well, deeply entrenched in their lives. Many feel that social media has harmful effects on teens, especially teen girls. In particular, their self esteem is at risk. Research reveals that 68 percent of adolescent girls follow accounts that focus on beauty, fashion, and reality TV stars. This number seems particularly high when it is compared to teen boys, who have, on average, twelve different interests. As a parent, I have tried to limit screen time, but, to be perfectly honest, I have failed. It is just the way they communicate, and I have learned to accept this. Teenage girls believe that without social media, they would not have a life or would be missing out in some crucial way. So what can we do? Well, luckily, a recent study discovered a rather simple and effective method of alleviating this problem.
The study asked a group of adolescent girls to follow four high-achieving women whose interests were similar to theirs. The girls were not required to change anything else about their social media habits. After nine months, the girls were interviewed, and the results were promising. The girls reported that their conception of social media had completely changed! Wow! They all reported a totally different outlook on social media, namely, that it is not all about materialistic things, but is more about the process of learning. They even concluded that it could offer them guidance and vision in their lives! In addition, the exercise changed their social media feeds, and the girls ended up following healthier accounts that were not directly related to beauty, fashion, or reality TV. Hooray! In fact, the exercise even had tangible effects in the girls’ lives. For example, one girl who followed a political activist ended up participating in a women’s march!
So, here is a basic and economical strategy that can drastically improve teen girls’ social media health. What is holding us parents back?