Depression and suicide rates are climbing. Many have been wondering why kids are becoming so depressed, and a lot of blame gets placed on technology. While technology is a big factor and is typically the platform for many of these issues, it’s not the total reason. Even though social media is being used to connect people in ways that have not been available before, it has become isolating for many individuals for many reasons.
The term FOMO is an acronym for the Fear Of Missing Out. When kids today get together to have fun somewhere, they post about it on social media. Whether it’s Snapchat or Instagram or something else altogether, they have a need to show the world how much fun they are having. When other friends see these images and videos they start to feel bad that they weren’t invited.
Years ago, when our friends went out without us, we usually had no way of knowing. With the oversharing that happens these days kids are more aware of how unpopular they are. When you see all the fun things that are happening around you, and you aren’t invited to the party, it can be hard for children to understand.
When we were younger popularity was more of a state of being. You generally knew who the “popular” kids were, but you didn’t have data to back that assumption up. Today, when one kid posts a picture, and another kid posts a similar one, and this picture gets more likes than the other picture, kids can become self-conscious.
This not only is found in how many likes a picture gets but in how many contacts you have on various social platforms. Someone with 100 people following them on Instagram is obviously less popular than someone with 1000 people following them. This kind of data that readily available in today’s social media world, is making kids question themselves, and try to present an unrealistic view of their life.
Best Face Forward
As kids scramble for likes, they show their best face on social media. They take hundreds of pictures before they find the perfect one that makes them look the best to post. When everyone does this it can perpetuate this “best face” social sharing, which is unattainable in real life. No one looks perfect all the time, and typically these kids don’t even look that perfect when you see them face to face anyway. If your online persona is always looking better than the face looking back at you in the mirror it can cause some serious depression.
As you see your peers on social media, with their “best faces” as well, it can also make you feel completely inadequate about yourself. This doesn’t only happen with kids, it can happen with adults as well. You see perfect families with their perfect kids and their perfect homes, and you start to feel like a total failure in your own life.
The obvious cause of depression in many kids is the cyberbullying. For kids, it can be so much easier to hide behind a device and make fun of others. It is definitely a real problem that many schools are actively trying to address. Checking up on your kids through parental controls can help you know if your child is perpetrating it, or being a victim of cyberbullying, or even both.
Because these social media pitfalls are easily accessible, it is important to have frequent conversations with your children about how what they see online is usually not realistic or even someone’s real personality. Help them have real conversations with friends, and they can overcome the dangers that are waiting for them inside social media.
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