SOS in time of social media crisis

We all know how hard it is to break into a new environment – a new school, new social circle or make friends at work. This seems to be even harder for someone young, lacking life experience.

So how should we support young people? How do we teach them to stay true to themselves and express their uniqueness in a confident way? We are social animals and we all desire similar things. We want to have loyal friends, loving partners and meaningful work. We all need a sense of purpose in our lives.

As we grow older the last one becomes very important. The need of being liked and accepted for a teenager is much more profound than for a thirty year old professional with established career and family ties.

Everyday our children are given a wide variety of choices. With or without our consent, they decide who to be friends with, who to follow on Twitter or what music to listen to. Finding balance and happiness becomes even harder.

We connect with people by sharing things we have in common. We share opinions, views and experiences. This used to happen face-to-face but today vast majority of it happens online. This is where the power of social media kicks in. There is a strong need to impress others and gain their approval.

The worrying bit is that it’s not easy for kids to recognise when something is fundamentally bad for them. Protecting their mental health becomes our number one priority.

In light of poor work-life balance, long work commute and financial pressure, parents best intentions are often not put into practice. Close child-parent relationship is essential however, it’s also up to siblings, friends, teachers and communities to keep youth strongly grounded.

Parents can’t do it singlehandedly – no matter how much time they spend with their kids.

Mental illness can be very sneaky. Without the expert knowledge, it’s easy to make matters worse by using the wrong method to connect with a child. Emotions can easily take over and before you know it, all that’s coming across is frustration or anger, not sympathy and support. Being determined to succeed parents can also give conditions. This can cause more damage than good. To someone who is anxious and feels misunderstood this can be a final nail in the coffin.

It can cause them to be more withdrawn and disconnected from the outside world. We need to face the reality. Our kids need us more than ever before. They are unlikely to tell us this, but they need our help to stay safe and sane! This is especially important now, when social media has such a huge outreach and impact.

Over the last couple of years youth’s mental health has become a significant issue. It’s now an issue on a large scale that urgently needs more attention. The only way we can make a difference is to be united.

Teaching children to talk about feelings can’t solve the problem but can be of a massive help. This openness and ability to speak up will result in our kids becoming confident and happy adults. Let’s teach our children to express their feelings. They will be able to stand their ground and protect themselves.

Showing emotions is a sign of strength, not weakness. Bottling them up could have a very damaging effect long term. Let’s not rely on GPs and medical experts to look after our kids. The right help might never come.

Let’s create better mental health awareness. There is only one place where it can start – at home and in our communities.

Published by lisanilson

Founder, ceo, youth mentor

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