By CCPC Counseling and Wellness Center Therapist Kaitlin Kaufman
For some of us, looking back at our teen years brings warm nostalgic memories, and for others of us, there is pain in recalling those years of our lives. Today’s youth face a new and unique set of challenges that no generation before them has encountered. For many, navigating the teen years while the world went into disarray during the shutdowns associated with COVID-19 was difficult! A lot of us turned to social media to stay connected with those we were missing and to gain ideas, insights, and laughter during a confusing time while trying to preserve hope. Now, the combination of social media and the pandemic’s impacts is considered a threat to the mental health of teens, especially females.
45% of teen females report feeling overwhelmed by drama on social media or worse about their own lives after viewing social media (Anderson, Vogels, Perrin, and Rainie, 2022). This has left an impacting concern on the hearts of many parents, teachers, and mental health professionals. Our relationship, societally, with social media has changed and has empowered individuals to have a voice and express themselves in new and creative ways. However, according to Maria Lencki of Fox News (2023) the mental health of teenage females has rapidly declined in recent years. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control state that hopelessness in teen females has increased from 36% to 57% between 2017 to 2021.
While these figures are alarming, we are striving to empower our teens and parents to use today’s technology as an asset and to learn to set healthy boundaries where needed. Experts suggest that parents keep open lines of communication with their teens regarding social media’s mental health impacts. Additionally, parents and caregivers are encouraged to monitor the social media posting, usage, and consumption of their young people. Some suggestions in this area include using technology in common spaces, putting time and hour limitations on social media, and educating teens on the value of ‘unplugging’ (Canadian Pediatric Society, 2023). There are also numerous resources available that marry the concepts of modern and attractive technology with attention to improving mental health matters. An honorable mention in this area is the app How We Feel, which can be accessed and downloaded here.
If you would like further assistance in the area, are seeking parenting coaching, or believe your teen could benefit from therapeutic services, please reach out to the Christian Center of Park City’s Counseling and Wellness Center at (435) 649-2260 ext. 1. We are here to help!