The Link Between Technology & Social Anxiety: Why Face-to-Face Engagement is So Important

The Link Between Technology & Social Anxiety: Why Face-to-Face Engagement is So Important

 

In video 5 my 8 part discussion with Amy Frisch, a wonderful therapist who has been leading teenage girls groups for twenty years, she had some truly helpful things to say around social anxiety.

She talks about how stimulating technology can be and how we need to help our teens learn to quiet their central nervous system. I think we sometimes forget that we are human animals and that when it comes to fear and anxiety our reactions are often not much different than other animals.

My takeaway

My favorite takeaway from this short video is when Amy says that today teens consider “hanging out” what they do on Skype or Snapchat. They don’t call each other on the phone and say “come over to my house, hang out, no one’s home.”

I imagine with so much of our communicating being done through our phone, the idea of sitting face to face feels like too much. Too much pressure, too much stress, and maybe even too much intimacy.

“Consciously Parenting Teens” Video Series

I hope you enjoy the video above. If you haven’t opted in to see the full 8 part series, I do encourage you to see it. Amy has a really unique way of presenting ideas. Here’s the form to subscribe.

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An invitation

I would love to continue this discussion with you in the comments below. If  you feel inspired to share your stories or insights, I would love to hear them.

Why is It So Hard For Teenagers to Feel Good About Their Appearance and How Parents Can Help?

Why is It So Hard For Teenagers to Feel Good About Their Appearance and How Parents Can Help?

 

In this video Lauren Muriello, LPC of Well Being Therapy Center discusses why it can be so difficult for teenagers to feel o.k. about their physical appearance. She points out the illusions society continually feeds us regarding what people should look like, and reminds us how important it is for parents to help their children understand what’s real and what’s not real.

Look in your own life. Who are the real people in your life? … Your parents, your grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, teachers, friends. This is what real people look like.

 

Teenagers, will always be comparing themselves to others to see how they measure up, but by getting them to think differently about who they are comparing themselves to, maybe we have a chance to help have a more realistic assessment about what people look like, and ultimately help them feel a little better about their own physical being” – Lauren Muriello

Realistic self assessment in adolescents

I love her advice to tell our kids that if they have to compare themselves to anyone, they should choose real people in their lives rather than compare themselves to people they see in the movies or advertisements.

Lauren also stresses the importance for parents to try to deemphasize physical appearance and reemphasize our children’s talents and who they are on the inside. Help them spend more time doing things they enjoy, rather than staring in the mirror picking themselves apart.

I don’t know why it is so hard for anyone, particularly teenage girls, to feel o.k. about their appearance, but we know that advertising companies are not going to help, and Lauren has some practical advice to help parents help their teenagers to give themselves a break when judging their  appearance.

The impact on girls

Today teenage girls are being taught that they can be anything they want. Studies show that today girls feel more empowered to be anything they want more than ever before and they are seizing opportunities closed to previous generations .

They believe they have equal opportunities at school to be leaders, top students, get the jobs they want, etc. but, (and this is a very big but), somehow they are still getting the message that what they look like matters more than anything else they might do. This message is not unique to the U.S.

In an article written by Claire Cain Miller and published in the N.Y. Times on 9/14/18, Miller sites a new nationally representative poll of 1,000 children and adolescents age girls 14 to 19, that showed that while girls feel equal to boys in just about every way, it’s not true when it comes to their bodies.

Three-quarters of those polled felt judged as a sexual object and unsafe as a girl. By far, they felt that society considered physical attractiveness to be the most important physical trait for a girl. It should be noted that surveys have found that not just teenage girls, but adult women also feel the same way.

Deborah Tolman, a psychology professor at the City University of New York who researches adolescent sexuality, said …

This is the contradiction we put in front of girls: You should be confident, and do well in school and do athletics, but your supposed to also be a good sex object at the same time. -Deborah TolmanClick To Tweet

What about boys?

I don’t think boys get a free ride when it comes to their bodies and physical appearance. Teenage boys feel pressure to have the “perfect body,” which is to be both lean and have large muscles.

The number of teen males dissatisfied with their bodies has tripled in the past 25 years and men now account for 1 in 4 eating disorders , 95% of which begin in adolescence.

So, I think everything that Lauren recommends parents do to help their teenage children goes for boys as well as girls.

“Parenting and Digital Technology” Video Series

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Teen Smart-Phone Usage as a Privilege, Not a Right: Establishing Sensible Restrictions

Teen Smart-Phone Usage as a Privilege, Not a Right: Establishing Sensible Restrictions

 

One thing that becomes very clear when listening to Lauren Muriello, LPC of Well Being Therapy Center talk about the use of technology, is the importance for parents to be very clear with their teens about their rules for cell phone use.

There is no vagueness in what she has to say. You set rules for your child before you give them a phone and then if your teen breaks those rules there are reasonable consequences.

It makes sense, but I imagine plenty of parents are not completely clear with their child about exactly what they expect from them before they give them a phone. This makes it more difficult to take it away when your child does something irresponsible.

Consequences need to be short. We need to give our teenagers the understanding that they did something wrong and the behavior needs to improve, but then we need to give them a chance to do it right. -Lauren Murriello Click To Tweet

How long should you take your child’s phone away as a consequence?

Teenagers may think they can’t live without their cell phones, but I can tell you from experience that they can not only live without them, but that there are plenty of benefits from them being away from their  phones for a while, including the chance to focus on schoolwork, talk to the people next to them, and even relax in ways they may not have in a long time.

Lauren says we should not take away a teen’s phone for months. She thinks that would be excessive. The goal of taking away your teen’s phone, for a day or two is to give them a chance to do it right, to be responsible.

Consequences versus punishment

I think this is the real takeaway. The end game is to teach, but we need to give our kids the space to get it right, to do it again and make better decisions.

This is how we can help build self esteem and closer relationships through disciplining our kids. The discipline is not punitive. The consequences are logical and they are reasonable.

When we lay down consequences as parents, we need to keep site of the higher intention, which is to teach our kids, not only to respect the rules, but that they have the power to get it right. This is very different than a punishment made out of anger.

If you’re interested learning more about the difference between punishment and consequences, you might find this article helpful on empoweringparents.com

“Parenting and Digital Technology” Video Series

I do hope you get a chance to watch the video above and opt-in for the whole series. I think there are some some good takeaways sprinkled throughout. If you missed the opt-in form at the end of the video, here it is again.

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How Anxiety Can Help Teens Practice For Life Challenges

How Anxiety Can Help Teens Practice For Life Challenges


Getting to the other side of anxiety

In this short video Lauren Muriello, LPC of Well Being Therapy Center talks about how we all experience anxiety and that it is a natural, healthy part of the human condition. This reminds me of I a quote I saw recently that read … 

'The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional.' - Max LucadoClick To Tweet

Using fear as a tool

Lauren makes a great point about the importance for parents to try not to shield their teen from the things that might trigger their anxiety, but to let them feel worried and anxious, and to help them “get on the other side of it.” Anxiety is just an emotion like any other. We don’t have to get anxious about feeling anxious.

She discusses the importance for parents to encourage their children not to avoid the things that frighten them. The more we avoid things that make us anxious the more things we find to become anxious about. Avoiding certain things may help us feel less anxious now, but in the long run, that avoidance can make our lives smaller.

Are you contributing to your teen’s anxiety?

Lauren suggests that the higher expectations we may be putting on our children today can add to their stress and anxiety. She reminds us that there is a good chance that the grade our kids get on their AP Biology class will probably not have a very high correlation to the happiness they will experience.

I know that it is very easy as parents to project their own wants and maybe even unfulfilled dreams on to our children. Sometimes it can be a challenge  NOT to pass on our own worries and fears as well, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to relax more and help our teenagers do the same.

“Parenting and Digital Technology” Video Series

I do hope you get a chance to watch the video above and opt-in for the whole series. I think there are some some good takeaways sprinkled throughout. If you missed the opt-in form at the end of the video, here it is again.

Enter your email to see the entire 9 part video series with Lauren Muriello, LPC

One short segment will be delivered to your inbox each day for 9 days. Occasional notifications for new videos will follow. Your info is sacred and will never be shared.

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Do Cell Phones Belong at Camp?

Do Cell Phones Belong at Camp?

Do cell phones belong at camp?

The trauma of taking away kids’ “magic phones” at camp

I know that’s a little dramatic, but that’s how it feels watching kids hand their cell phones over to their parents when they are dropped off at camp. I think I got that “magic phone” term from the comedian Norm McDonald, (one of my favorites).

A chat with a colleague

I was talking last week with the Director of another summer camp for teenagers. They allow cell phones at camp and they advertise it. The Director was very honest in telling me that allowing phones makes it easier to get teens to come to camp.

They have restrictions around usage, and he doesn’t feel that having cell phones hurts their campers’ experience. He knows his camp and campers well and for his camp he is probably right.

I imagine that if we changed our cell phone policy it would make it a little easier to help some teens find the courage to give camp a try. We have plenty of campers who live with social anxiety and general shyness.

A therapist who specializes in social anxiety and teens recently told me that attending a sleepaway camp for a teen with social anxiety can feel like trying to climb a ladder that’s missing the bottom rungs. He said it may be too difficult for some.

While I’m sure he’s right, I also know that plenty of teens have come to camp with social anxiety and in a short time were able to relax, find their tribe and have a lot of fun.

The hero’s journey

I’m sure we could change our policy on cell phones and still have a good camp. We would set guidelines and boundaries and help campers practice using their phones responsibly. However, ultimately, I would be doing it to get more campers, and not because I think teenagers would have a better experience at camp. That’s probably not a good enough reason to change our policy.

I believe having teens let go of their phones for a few weeks at camp is really good for them. Within a few days most every camper is able to relax and connect with others in a way that is powerful and healing. I think not having their phone makes it easier for these connections to happen.

I also believe that this concept known as FOMO, (fear of missing out), is a very real thing and that even teens with plenty of self esteem and a lot of friends can come away from fifteen minutes on Instagram feeling as if their life does not quite measure up to others. I think it’s the nature of social media to make us feel that way.

So, we’ll keep our current cell phone policy and hope enough teens find the courage to take the hero’s journey, leave their cell phones with their parents, and come to camp. They will be surprised how little they miss that phone. In a short time, they will recognize that there is more magic to be found in being present, laughing and spending time with new friends than there is in staring at their phone.