How The Social Media Comparison Trap Can Hurt Kids’ Self Esteem, and The Importance of Real Connection


In this short video, Lauren Muriello, LPC of Well Being Therapy Center, talks about the damage to a teenager’s self-esteem that can occur by spending hours looking at hundreds of pictures of their friends on social media.

The thing that’s impacting our teenagers the most with social media is the fact that they are constantly comparing themselves to these highlight reels, which when it comes down to it are really just kind of fake. -Lauren Muriello Click To Tweet

When teens are constantly comparing themselves to their friends’ social media “highlight reels,” it can be really hard for them to feel good about themselves because what they’re seeing are illusions.

We must point out to our kids that things are often not what they appear to be, especially where social media is concerned. Most teens are not highlighting the challenges or struggles they have in their lives or when things didn’t go so great.

Screen-time and the happiness correlation

As mentioned by Lauren, there is research that suggests that teens who spend less time on their phones engaging with social media do report being happier and more satisfied, as stated in this excellent article in the Washington Post.

Of course, parents will make their determination about what the max screen time threshold should be for their child, but the prevailing wisdom is that teenagers should keep their screen time to two hours a day or less.

Creative strategies to encourage connection

It’s really important now more than ever that parents are making sure their teenagers are engaged in face-to-face activities… sports, art, music, or even just hanging out with their friends in person.

Unfortunately, we need to encourage something that should happen naturally, but that’s the world we live in now. As parents, we need to come up with creative strategies to help our kids socialize in ways that build real connections.

I love Lauren’s suggestion to challenge/entice your teenagers and their friends to leave their phones in a basket for a specified time when they come to your house.  In exchange for their phones, you can offer something special, like going out for Sushi later or even ice cream. I know sushi is not inexpensive, but if we can use it to teach our teenagers the importance of connecting face-to-face, I say bring on the ahi tuna roll.

“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 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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Adam Simon, Odyssey Teen Camp Director

Adam Simon

I'm Adam Simon. I started teen camp eighteen years ago with the vision of creating a space where teenagers would know they are safe from bullying or negative judgments and would feel free to show who they really are and to become their best selves. Let's connect, discuss, and engage...
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