Steps to reduce risk of social media sites among teenagers

While social media has made connecting and communicating with anyone at any time as easy as pie, it also has altered teen's social skills and behaviors.

Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace have proven to be great tools to expedite the development of empathy, encourage task-switching or even bring somewhat shy individuals a little more out of their shells. However, social media sites have also fostered a host of psychological and behavioral problems.

"Cognitive development is still maturing during the teen years and the introduction of these types of online outlets can act as a platform for teenagers to speak their minds without facing peers directly," said Amy Grosso, Ph.D., a counselor with CareNet, part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "This can result in negative consequences, such as bullying, narcissism, depression, distractibility and anxiety."

Teens also may struggle with real-life social interactions if most of their communication has been conducted through a screen rather than in person, Grosso said.

She suggests parents take the following steps to reduce the risk of teens experiencing the negative effects of social media:
•Limit the amount of time spent online. As with most things, moderation is key.
•Teach online etiquette. Make sure teens know what appropriate language is and what images should and should not be posted online.
•Don't be afraid to seek professional counseling.


Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center


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