Mental health is incredibly important for our teens and pre-teens, and as parents, we play a vital role in supporting our adolescents during this challenging phase of their lives. We at Woodforest Counseling have seen through the eyes of many parents and teens how difficult it is to navigate the waters of the digital landscape. The enemy can use our kids’ iPhones to lure them into social media accessible 24x7, so it is important to understand some basics.
Social media is a part of your teen's life, and we know it has multiple negative aspects (and some positive too). Spending time on social media will lead to feelings of inadequacy and the pressure to conform to unrealistic standards. As a parent, it's crucial to guide them in using social media wisely if they use tools like Snapchat or Instagram. Group and individual texting, on the iPhone, is still social media but due to its much smaller audience can provide a connection to their friend groups and teams and youth groups. Even with the positives of social media, it is imperative to teach them, to help them discern real vs. online, and how their phone must not be an appendage to their arm! Encouraging them to get outside, compete in games, sports, etc can help our children from over-indulging in social.
The types of social media:
Social Networking Sites: This includes platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where people connect with friends and family, share updates, and interact with a broader social network.
Messaging Apps: Text messaging, Snapchat, and other instant messaging apps fall into this category. They are primarily for one-on-one or small group communication.
Photo and Video Sharing: Instagram and photo apps, such Snapchat, Twitch, fall into this category. They focus on sharing images and videos to express and connect with others.
Gaming: This category includes all phone games that request friends access and participation, and have no end or formula to win the game. These dangerous games are meant to continue to grab our attention into perpetuity.
What are a few things you can do?
A healthy family environment can impact an adolescent's mental health. Encourage open communication within your family. Create a safe space where your children feel comfortable discussing their thoughts and emotions. Be involved with likeminded families. How can you best capture the attention? Here are a few practical strategies:
1. Active Listening: listen to your adolescents without judgment. Show them that their feelings are valid and that you're there to support them.
2. Jesus-focused Resources: Utilize resources from spiritual leaders in your church and from friends (Woodforest Counseling has resources as well) to explore how faith can help adolescents navigate mental health challenges.
3. Help: Don't hesitate to seek professional guidance if needed (pastors and bible based counselors).
4. Healthy Lifestyle: Encourage physical activity, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep. These factors play a crucial role in our childrens’ well-being.