Though it’s easier said than done, sometimes the best way to improve our experiences on social media is to not just change how much we’re using it, but how we talk to others and react to what we encounter online. This is particularly true for your child, given how much they are likely connected to a variety of social media apps.
Now, toxic is a heavy word. Identifying toxic social media habits doesn’t mean that your child is a bad person or that they’re the direct cause of other people’s problems through social media. Toxic habits are those that, if not addressed, can reach the point of doing damage to both your child and others, whether they are intentional or not. Some toxic habits regarding social media include the inability to close and instead constantly refreshing apps that include accounts that make users feel bad about themselves and cause negativity, as well as spending a significant amount of time filtering, analyzing, and downloading apps to help people curate the seemingly perfect life online. Other habits can include following – or even just checking in on – the accounts of people who have hurt users, trolls, and hateful accounts who don’t share the same opinions as them.
Toxic habits on social media can fester to the point where they can emphasize mental illness symptoms. Following accounts that promote unhealthy habits, such as extreme dieting or forcing positivity, can be triggering and guilt-inducing, and looking at troll accounts can make people angry and cause them to engage in fights and lash out. Caring too much about social media stats can make those susceptible incredibly anxious and over-analytical about actions they make both online and off, and if you feel like you’re constantly doomscrolling and can’t log off, they might end up triggering depressive symptoms and feelings of hopelessness.
As we begin the new year, you may want to reconsider how you’re using your social media accounts and if the way you engage online may possibly be toxic. You can learn more about how your child may be holding toxic social media habits here.
Have you ever had any toxic social media habits? Do you have any now? What would you like to do differently with how you use social media? How would you approach a conversation about toxic social media habits with your child?