Why are Teenagers so Into Social Media?


When teens reach the high school years (ages 14-18), they also reach the stage of development where they start to individuate.  Teens begin to sense that they are different from their parents.  They start wondering Who am I?  Teens start to experiment with values, ideas and beliefs to develop their own identity.  It is during this stage that teens are learning to be their own person.  They what to be autonomous, make decisions for themselves and pursue their own interests.  Teens want to develop  goals for themselves and plan their own lives. This is the time when their emerging identity, image and reputation are very important to them.

Social Media like FACEBOOK gives teens the perfect platform for individuating because Facebook is their own.  They have total control over how they “show up” on Facebook.  They design their own timeline, choose their own “Friend” group and they create their own profile information.


Experimenting with thoughts, ideas or opinions is easy on Facebook. When your teen posts a status or writes a comment on Facebook they get immediate feedback from their Friend group.  If they post a status and no one “likes” it or “comments” on it,  your teen thinks, ”Okay, that was a bust.  I won’t post that again” .  It allows them to test the waters and try new directions.  A good example is when your teen gets a new haircut, they take a picture and posts it on Facebook.  If they get forty-two “Likes” and fifteen comments such as “You look awesome” or “GREAT look”  your teen will go to school on Monday morning feeling good about their choice of hair cut and confident that they like the way they look.  They have been validated and affirmed on Facebook


Are you “Friends” with your teen on Facebook?  If you are, you are probably parenting in a way that validates and affirms your teen.  When you value and appreciate your teen for the unique person that they are, you support his or her quest to become an autonomous, independent individual.


However, if you are not Friends with your teen on Facebook, it does not mean that you are doing something wrong    Mutual trust and respect are paramount to having a good relationship with your teen.  If you are giving your teen the freedom and space to have their privacy on Facebook, that is also good for your teens development.


The key is that you and your teen agree and feel comfortable with your Facebook relationship.  If you or your teen are not comfortable, sit down together and talk about your feelings and together make a plan of how you can reach an agreement about your Facebook status.  Include steps to build mutual trust and respect around Facebook activity.


So remember to support your teen by affirming their uniqueness and validating their quest to develop themselves as individuals.  Foster mutual trust and respect by being sensitive to how and why your teen uses Facebook.