Social media gets a bad rap for making kids (and everyone else) anxious and depressed: Is everyone else having more fun? Going cooler places? Happier with their lives — and way more attractive?
But this article in the Wall Street Journal points out that there is also a flip side: Sometimes very anxious teens avoid social media, thereby losing out on potential friendships and being a part of things. These young adults are so worried about what they’ll post or how they’ll appear — well, it’s just like “real” life. Their anxiety keeps them from joining in, which just makes them feel more anxious, lonely and out of the loop.
So now some psychologists and such are coaching anxious kids in how to jump into social media. As the Journal reports:
[T]eens who dodge digital communication may lose opportunities to make important social connections.
“You miss out on conversations, on invitations or knowing what’s going on on the weekend,” says Lauren Hoffman, a clinical psychologist at the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders. “This is how teenagers are communicating.”
Psychologists are having teens practice texting, posting selfies to Instagram and Snapchat and “liking” and commenting on the posts of their friends. The techniques are usually part of cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of talk therapy that focuses on changing thoughts that fuel anxiety and exposing yourself to the situations you’re afraid of. CBT is the most evidence-based nondrug treatment for anxiety disorders.
Let’s hear it for exposure to the things that scare us as a way of becoming less scared. (That goes for kids AND parents.)
At Let Grow we are always in favor of young people doing more on their own, including things that may seem a bit daunting at first, like walking to school, running an errand — or posting a selfie.