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Why Social Networking Can Cause Stress in Teens

January 17, 2011 by

Social networking sites are an important part of most teen’s social life, yet they can cause stress in teens. According to research from the Kaisey Family Foundation, American youths between the ages of 8 and 18 years spend an average of 7 ½ hours per day using electronic devices, including smart phones, MP3 players, and computers. These can provide a lot of cyber experiences that cause stress in teens.Social networking can be very beneficial for some teens. For example, shy kids who find it stressful to be outgoing and to make friends face-to-face find it easier to connect with others online. Teens can connect with more individuals on a regular basis and some find that scheduling their many activities can be easier by using these social networks.

On the other hand, some aspects of social networking have psychologists worried. When considering how today’s teens develop relationships, psychologists are concerned that adolescents are spending more time cultivating cyber friendships rather than building close face-to-face friendships. Face-to-face friendships help kids build trust in people outside the family and help them understand the social cues of body language that are not part of communicating via electronic devices.  This lack of ability to communicate effectively in real life situations can cause stress as the teens develop into young adults and navigate in business communities and other parts of adult society.

Here are 4 guidelines to share with your teens to help keep social networking a safe experience.

1. Watch the privacy settings. These sites change their privacy settings often, so check them regularly and monitor who has access to your teen’s information. Watch for false names and identification. Be certain to whom your teens are talking. Dealing with stress from misinformation posted by someone you thought you knew can take a long time to correct. Guard your social networking privacy so that information that you do not want shared, is not shared.

2. Choose friends carefully. Teens do not have to be “friends” with everyone. They should only connect with those individuals they know. Innocently posted details can be shared throughout the web as individuals send from one network of friends to another. The mass forwarding of information can lead to cyber bullying .

3. Watch what you post. Information shared through social networking has a way of becoming permanent. Even if deleted, the file may exist somewhere. Employers are known to check social network profiles of potential hires to learn about the individual’s personality or history. Never post anything on a social network site that you would not want the public to see or know. Your privacy is not as secure as you think.

4. Do not give out personal information. Never post a home address or telephone number, or post a time and place of private parties that you will be attending. Predators prowl these social network sites and search for innocent teens to become their prey.

Advice for Parents

Remember that your teens need to stay connected with real life social activities, develop close friends from school, and take time for social activities and sports. These actions will help combat teen stress and help maintain a balance in their lives. A life staring at a computer screen and watching the smart phone leads to increased isolation from the real world. Your teen is not Alice and the computer is not the Looking Glass.

Dr. Gatty is the mother of two young adult boys, a life coach, author and organizational strategist. She also hosts a website, which offers stress management strategies, life skill development, and a means of finding your true passion in life. You can also find Dr. Gatty’s “Stress Management 4 Women” on Facebook.

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