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Over the past two days, news stories of the “Momo Challenge” have been rapidly spreading through the media. This has led to much misinformation, unclear understanding and concerned parents, professionals and teachers as well as frightened children.  On Wednesday, February 27th, reports of this “challenge” were seen in many media news stories and by forwarded posts on Facebook, Instagram and other social media. By Thursday February 28th 2019, students in schools were talking about it and scared by the image attached to this story.

Do you remember when Atari was the most popular, must have, latest gaming system? Or, when you got your first cell phone and it was used for emergencies only? How about when television ads first started to include that “www dot thing” at the bottom of the screen? Growing up, I can remember each of these instances and more as the world wide web began to infiltrate our homes and lives.

Question:

“Dear Amanda,

I have a teenage daughter who is on social media. I worry about her self-esteem and her comparing herself to other girls on social media. How do I help her develop strong self-esteem in this social media visually driven world we are immersed in?”


Great question! Worrying about our daughter’s self esteem, especially in regards to body image and media, has been around for a long time. For decades, women have been used in print and television media to sell and promote various items and goods. They have been touched up, airbrushed and Photoshopped for years. Social media has certainly taken its place as the primary vehicle for teens to get information and feedback.

First of all, continue to do the good things that parents do to instill good self-esteem:
– Praise accomplishments
– Do things as a family
– Help your daughter build sets of skills and ways to express herself
– Encourage sports teams or other group based activities (band, theater, etc.).

Next, watch how you, as her parents, interact with her:

Moms
– Don’t criticize your own body in front of her, i.e.“Doesn’t my butt look big in these jeans?”

– Don’t wear her clothes. Allow her to develop her own sense of style and image.

Dads
– Teach her to be self sufficient and allow her to learn the same skills that you would a son: change a tire, drive, mow the lawn, play ball, learn sports, etc.

– Remember, that one-on-one time with a father is important!

Food
– Don’t talk about food as “good” or “bad.” Talk about balance and what helps to keep our bodies healthy.

Social Media
– Have a conversation about what your daughter is seeing. If she’s watching the Kardashians on television, talk with her about what she is thinking. Help her to develop a critical lens to translate and decode what is the message behind the ad or show.

– Talk with her about what she is seeing on Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr. Discuss what hashtags her cyberpeers are using with selfies and photos. If you want more information about hashtags, contact Shape the Sky and request our hashtag guide.

– Review your daughter’s social media activities and discuss how to post a positive “brand” about herself.

– Research blogs about celebrities who stood up when their image was sabotaged by Photoshop and how they advocated for an accurate betrayal. Click here for an example of a great blog on the topic.

Warning Signs
If you continue to be concerned or notice your daughter becoming withdrawn, overly negative or changing her sleep, weight or eating habits, contact a professional. An assessment with a good therapist can give her support to get through a difficult time as well as screen for anything that may need further intervention.

As always, keep the conversation going. We can’t help them travel the path if they don’t have a map and a guide.

amanda-new

Amanda Cooper, LCSW

“I’m working with parents that are struggling with their kids’ behavioral outbursts when they take away their device. It’s almost like they have an addiction to their phone or tablet. I’ve heard of internet addiction, but is there device addiction?”

Amanda’s Answer:
This is a very good question and one that comes up often in discussions with parents and professionals.  For the most part, the object of dependence tends to be the cell phone. If you need a demonstration, all you need to do…

Standing in front of an audience was never a career goal for me. I had no intention to do public speaking. My last year of college, I took a mandatory public speaking course over the summer when I knew there would be only a few students in my class. So, when I was first asked to do an assembly for middle school students, I was petrified. I instantly put them to sleep.

As we thought, Facebook has made a decision about the “Dislike” button. Rather than one button, Facebook is planning on launching a group of “Reaction” emojis which will express: love, haha, wow, yay, sad and angry. These emojis will have motion much like a gif.
Currently, they will pilot the new buttons in Spain and Ireland. After data is collected, the plan will be to release more globally. For a video of how it will be used and additional information, click here.
As with all changes, keeping up to date and talking with our kids about usage will continue to be important. The potential for “laughing” at something serious or being “angry” about something positive still exist.

In the last week, there has been a lot of talk about Mark Zuckerberg creating a new button to allow users to express “dislike.” This request has been going on for several years as users would like to show empathy for a FB friend who may be going thru something that is negative in their lives. As a clinician, my natural assumption, given the prevalence of cyberbullying, is that it could turn into another weapon in the cyber arsenal of those who wish to bully a peer. Because we live in a world where we look for validation – we want to know that we are liked and that people are interested in what we have to say.

First, a little information about my background: I’ve been working with teens and tweens since the early ‘90s. I first started my career working direct care at an inpatient psychiatric hospital. There, I learned much about a wide range of mental illness and the resulting behaviors. I then worked in residential settings treating teens struggling with mental health, trauma and behavioral concerns. Within these facilities, there was very limited access to the internet and cell phones were not permitted. Even in their home and community, their access was limited. IM messaging was used on computers and texting on flip phones, but very few people were accessing the World Wide Web.