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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.


If you find any comments that are rude or inappropriate, please contact us immediately.

  • Never A Dull Moment Says:

    This is an excellent article. The information about teen interactions with technology and the guidelines offered are clear and well researched. I do want to add a positive note, however. The advice to parents at the end seems to suggest that there is a dichotomy between using social media and being a social person and the research does not bear this out. In fact, the skills teens develop by being touch with many people throughout the day using varied technologies will be invaluable to them in the evolving workplace. Today’s teens will be adults in a working environment that expects them to use social media sites to further their working goals and those of their companies. These skills are as valuable to them as it was for their parents generation to learn to type, to have good phone skills, and to interact well in person. So supervise, but don’t discourage these activities unless they have taken the place of all personal interactions!

  • ann Says:

    Hello and thanks for your comment. You are correct that I should have stated in the post that parents should make certain that their kids don’t become socially isolated by substituting social media for real face-to-face contact. And the comment that teens will be expected to be fluent in social media for use in the business world is a great point and well taken. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  • Chris Says:


    This is a very timely article from a new perspective. Exploring the effects of social isolation (in real life) stemming over involvement in social networking is a valid point. To Never a Dull Moment’s point, there should of course be a balance as developing social networking and multi-tasking skills are important career attributes to posses for the modern day workplace.

    The key here might education. How to educate children on using social media in the correct way in order gain the benefits and avoid the pitfalls. Additionally this education is imperative in order to keep kids safe while social networking from cyberbullying as well as online predators.

    I wonder what your thoughts would be striking this balance between interaction and safety and career preparedness and real life social interactions?


  • ann Says:

    Hi Chris:
    You are very correct that education is a key component in safely interacting with social media tools. Parental guidelines and respectful monitoring with kids using the social media tools is one start in this area. Trustful communication between parents and their kids is also essential so that kids feel they can talk about web incidents that may not be appropriate. But social media is an important component of business marketing now, so including useful practice in a school setting will be important as our kids begin entering this rapidly changing business world. Honesty will always be a characteristic that needs to be emphasized when communicating using the social media tools. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Impact Parenting - Parent coaching Says:

    This is a very helpful article especially in this generation were kids aging 10 – their teens are indulging in social networks during their free time. The very crucial part is they spend more than their time on the internet and gaming than studying.