How Social Media Can Twist Your Child or Teenager’s Self-Perception

There is no avoiding the impact of social media in today’s generation. Nearly every age group knows what social media delivers for people and our culture altogether. Whether promoting your business or building up your personal image, social media is useful for learning about every social, political, and sports related (or other!) update. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Pinterest are becoming a necessity for our daily lives.

It is due to the attractive nature of these platforms that kids are easily drawn to them. Many children and teenagers spend their valuable time on these platforms, which can directly affect their education, sports activities, and more. Kids naturally begin looking for acceptance as they reach an age where their search for independence begins. It is very common for them to use social media more and more in attempts to make that space. Children and teenagers tend to find purpose in interacting with others and have total control over the persona they craft on various social media platforms.

When children and teenagers use social networking sites excessively, they can often become preoccupied with the images that others are projecting or with continually adapting their persona with the goal of gaining acceptance. Although a middle ground between the two is functional enough, too much of either is undoubtedly harmful.

The self perception of a child or teenager is one of the highest matters of concern on this topic, for how they see themselves is being developed a lot like when an infant is developing their sense of object permanence or even language! External stimuli can interrupt development processes in such ways as to cause them to become unhealthy, and we believe social media is no exception. Some of the points to consider are as follows:

Mental Health Concerns  

How can we skip mental health concerns when discussing the effect of social media on a child or teenager’s life? According to research by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK, children who use social media for two or more hours a day are more likely to experience mental health problems like symptoms of anxiety and depression. The most frequent outcome is depression, which may also indicate that your child has been a victim of online bullying or other situations.

Irregular Sexual Activity  

This area is another red flag topic. Here, it is crucial for parents to be aware of what their kids are going through on social media. Similarly to text messages, social media messaging makes it simple for children and teenagers to send and receive objectionable content without their parents being aware of it.

Additionally, it is much simpler for predators to isolate and reach them. Kids are more likely to be exposed to explicit information due to spending more time on social media platforms interacting with friends and meeting new individuals. Those new individuals have the ability to conceal their real identity when interacting with others to do whatever they want, which can spell trouble.


Most parents have encountered one or more bullies throughout their lives, though it has been less likely to have been a cyber bully. When you don’t have to interact with someone directly, it is much simpler to say hurtful things to them, and the consequences of children and teenagers receiving this sort of treatment can be harmful. Accounts about how bullying causes teen despair and anxiety, and at its worst, suicide, are frequently being told.

Is There Any Difference Between Girls And Boys?   

Bullying uses a common language. It occurs in every nation, to every gender, and doesn’t end in adolescence. However, it has been determined through various studies that girls experience cyberbullying more often than boys. There are several formulated opinions on why this is. The most prevalent is the idea that ladies may upload more pictures and videos of themselves online, which could lead to an increased exposure to criticism.

Our Thoughts On The Selfie Culture  

According to a social psychology study, seeking attention is the primary driving force behind selfies. Essentially, teenagers who share selfies receive positive feedback in the form of likes and comments. However, it can invite social comparison with others and there is no stopping the critical comments from anyone who can access the image. The pressure is further increased because many of today’s children and teens want to become “influencers.” For young children frantically seeking approval and acceptance, this can create a surefire recipe for disaster.

Our Recommendation  

As always, parents can be the best helping hand to guide their kids to (and bring them back to) the right track. If your child or teenager has been given the privilege of a smartphone device, and has not been directed to avoid social media apps, it is nearly unreasonable to expect their devices to be free of them! So, what should a parent do? Setting limits on social media use and having honest dialogues are the greatest ways to stop the negative effects that come with interacting on social media platforms.

The most impactful action parents can take is to set an example for their children and teenagers. They need to witness you following the social media rules and regulations you advise them to follow to stay healthy. For instance, if you are looking through pictures with your spouse and commenting on someone’s beauty, whether it’s nice or negative, they will naturally take it in and think it’s okay for them to do the same.

Get the Pinwheel Phone  

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*There are affiliate links throughout this post because we’ve tested and trust a small list of parental control solutions. Our work saves you time! If you decide that you agree with us, then we may earn a small commission, which does nothing to your price. Thank you!


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About the Author

Clayton Cranford
Clayton Cranford is a retired Sergeant from Orange County Sheriff's Department in California and owner of Total Safety Solutions LLC. Clayton is one of the nation’s leading law enforcement educators on social media, child safety, and behavioral threat assessments. Clayton is the author of the definitive book on cyber safety for families, “Parenting in the Digital World.” Clayton has more than 20 years of teaching experience and was awarded the 2015 National Bullying Prevention Award from the School Safety Advocacy Council, and the 2015 American Legion Medal of Merit. Clayton was a member of the County's Behavioral Threat Assessment Team, Crisis Negotiation Team, School Resource Officer program, and Juvenile Bureau.