Is your teenage daughter playing a dangerous game of popularity chess? Help her navigate this tricky game and make smart moves.

Are you caught up in the complex and dreadful parenting phase better known as social-media-maintenance-hell?

I must admit, I didn’t anticipate the issues this virtual Pandora’s Box would bring to our family when my husband and I gave our tweens a smart phone.

While there are certainly benefits to being active in the social media world, it’s tough to ignore the impact this chaotic environment may be having on your teens cognitive and social-emotional development.

According to a recent report, #Being13, some 13-year-olds check their social media accounts upwards to 100 times a day.

Why are teens compelled to obsessively check these accounts?

The study explains:

#Being13 found that it’s largely due to a need to monitor their own popularity status and defend themselves against those who challenge it.

  • 61% of teens said they wanted to see if their online posts are getting likes and comments.
  • 36% of teens said they wanted to see if their friends are doing things without them.
  • 21% of teens said they wanted to make sure no one was saying mean things about them.

“This is an age group that has a lot of anxiety about how they fit in, what they rank, what their peer-status is.” According to child clinical psychologist Marion Underwood.

If you’re curious how much influence and time your daughter is giving her accounts, maybe it’s time to explore that topic together.

Her reaction to your compassionate, exploratory questions will likely provide some insight into her level of distress or satisfaction.

However, if you want to understand the real and unfiltered impact her social media accounts are having on her – look into her eyes after she’s viewed her friends’ stories and counted her likes.

An upbeat reaction usually signals a sense of peer connection and personal contentment – for now.

But, what if your daughter’s posts are met with silence, shame or humiliation by her peers?

The game of popularity chess is a tricky because the expectations are high, the rules are loose, and uncertainty prevails.

As parents, it’s painful to watch your daughter experience the plethora of negative emotions that stem from a lack of peer affirmation.

However, adolescent hardships are part of growing up (remember yours?) and what I consider to be essential Resiliency Training.

If you and your daughter are ready to begin her Resiliency Training Regime, she needs to understand what’s happening to her mind and body when she’s viewing her posts and images.

You’ll want to approach this conversation with a curious mind and non-judgy questions, such as:

  • When I look at this post, the feelings that come up are _____?
  • When I look at this post, the story I’m telling myself is _____.
  • Are the thoughts I’m having positive or negative?
  • Are my thoughts rooted in fact or interpretation?
  • What can I do to nourish myself right now?
  • What are some helpful resources I can rely on to help me move through my difficult emotions?

Remember, even though your heart may be feeling heavy, it’s important to listen without trying to “fix” her problems.

It’s common for parents to experience past pains and guilt, too.

We’re here to support one another, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

I truly believe that when one girl decides to make a positive change, there’s a significant ripple effect.

How have you and your daughter learned to manage social medial challenges and the virtual world of popularity chess?

If you’re interested in reading the full study, here’s the link: #Being 13 Social Media and the Hidden World of Young Adolescents’ Peer Culture.

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Posted in: Your Teen's Sense of Self