A generation ago, if someone wanted to say something nasty to you, they had to say it to your face. They had to see how it affected you, how it made you feel. Most kids immediately saw and felt badly about the negative things they did and said. Today, social media has given teenagers an outlet to be horrible to one another, without having to see the direct effects. This is just one of the many ways that teen self esteem can be damaged by social media.

Even more damaging is the very impersonal outlet it provides for teenagers to tear each other down is the façade of perfection that it builds up. Many people will post only the best photos of themselves online. They post only the most engaging, funny, or meaningful statuses or Tweets. There are very inexpensive and even free apps that allow a person to doctor their photos, removing blemishes and other imperfections, before the photo is posted online. Seeing only the best of the best, and often, completely altered pictures and thoughts from even people they know in real life can leave them feeling unworthy and even depressed, and can seriously damage teen self esteem.

Pressure to be perfect

The pressure to be perfect is even more prevalent online than it is in real life, especially because it the more “perfect” you are and the better you are able to display it, the more likely you are to get attention (even if that attention is dangerous). 

teen self esteem
Image source: Flickr user- ggrot

There is also a growing link in the teenage psyche between how much you share, how much those posts are liked or shared again, how many friends or followers you have, and how much you are worth. Those that get a lot of attention online might feel validated by that attention, while those who get less attention online may feel that they are unaccepted, unwanted, or unloved, even if, in real life, they have a solid family life and a solid group of friends. Take away that solid family life and that solid group of friends, and teen self esteem can be even more deeply impacted by follower or friend count.

Swapping images

Social media also creates an additional space for young boys and girls to be exposed to images and sentiments that can damage teen self esteem. Girls will swap picture of “thinspiration,” while guys will share articles about how to bulk up, further feeding into the perception that they have to look a certain way and that if they don’t, they are not good enough.

blueFire Wilderness Therapy can help

If your teen is experiencing behavioral and emotional difficulties due to a self esteem issue, blueFire Wilderness can help. blueFire is a wilderness therapy program for teens ages

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