For teens with brain disorders and accompanying anxieties, social media can serve as a wading pool of sorts, letting them tip their toes into the water; conversely, the new digital media can also act as a murky tank filled with piranha hungry for their prey. Here we break down the good, the bad and the ugly side of social media:
Good for kids struggling to socialize
While there’s nothing better than a genuine face-to-face relationship, there are some adolescents who are so shy that anxieties will flare up, so social media actually helps facilitate connection to other people, says Dr. Joel Young, founder and medical director of the Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine. “In many ways, social media is an equalizer for kids with disorders like ADHD, Depression, or Autism, all of which are known to cause considerable social anxieties.”
Social media can also be beneficial for those children who have obsessive symptoms that are common in bipolar disorder and Asperger’s syndrome. “Unlike the natural world, where lecturing without discrimination on one subject is a recipe for social isolation, that kind of thing is what makes the Internet tick,” observes Young.
Such a platform offers children and teens the opportunity to network, learn about the world, learn about people’s experiences, and access endless information. It’s an invaluable tool when used, say, to learn a new language from another child at the other side of the world.
Online harassment is a growing issue for teens today. For children with mental health illness, they are generally more vulnerable than the average child, and by being exposed to an Internet world of others, it widens the opportunity to be attacked and exploited. Online bullying can be a prolific problem many parents and educators see and find challenging to deal with.
Self-esteem and social development
The negative impact social media can have on teens is seen in a profound way on self-esteem. It is all too easy for faceless individuals from anywhere in the world to cruelly criticize others, widening the potential for damaging emotional behavior.
For children with the co-illness of ADHD and bipolar disorder, the over-stimulating medium of social media itself can have negative effects due to its overwhelming nature. “Kids with ADHD can find it hard to focus, even in normal circumstances,” explains Young. “When you have too much stimuli, it’s highly problematic.”
Lack of self-control
For kids with bipolar or ADHD, they lack the built-in capability of self-control. So, having such a world of “instant gratification” available, can be too appealing and obsessions can easily set in. These kids can also be prone to technology addictions and it’s not uncommon for teens to stay up all night glued to their screens.
What can parents do?
It may be pointless to remove all forms of digital media in an attempt to protect children from the perils of social media. Children are curious so they will gain access on their own and then you won’t have any control. Instead, with younger adolescents, consider practices like monitoring your child’s online activity and limiting Internet access. Some parents choose technology like cell phone tracking. At the very least, it’s important to provide your child with “perspective” and have a frank talk about what they might find on the world wide web.
Anxieties for parents
It’s a difficult developmental stage for parents to recognize that they have only limited control over their child’s access to negative, sexual, or violent images, points out Young. It’s like giving up control to protect and shield your child from such perils, something you’ve done your entire life. He says families have to find a middle ground where “good judgment and experience can meet.”
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community