The teen years can be a very challenging time for many young people. Teenagers must deal with peer pressure, popularity cliques, getting good grades, competition, family pressure, and self-image issues. Introduce technology and social media into the mix, and what you have is an even greater challenge for kids.
With the popularity and easy accessibility to social media venues, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and readily available text-messaging, teens can easily step into a minefield, which can have a profound and potentially devastating effect on their lives, well into the future. These minefields may be even more damaging to teenage girls.
Now more than ever it is vital for teenage girls to have the necessary tools to be able to avoid the mistakes, which can lead to cyber bullying, cyber stalking, and other negative circumstances. And the first and most effective tool is always education.
Teenage girls must be warned about the potential consequences of things like sending photos through cyberspace, especially to strangers. They must understand that you just can’t retrieve a photo from the Internet; once it’s out there it’s probably out there for good. Teenagers must also learn that words have power and effect on the lives of others – especially when tweeted to hundreds (or thousands) of followers.
There is a great website called That’s Not Cool.com that educates teens across the nation on common problems in healthy relationships through interactive games, videos, and callout cards! The site boldly asks the question “WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR DIGITAL LINE?” It also tells teens that: “Your mobile, IM and online accounts are all part of you. When someone you’re dating is controlling, disrespecting, or pressuring you in those places, THAT’S NOT COOL.”
But all the warnings and education in the world may not be enough if teenage girls don’t have the healthy self-esteem that’s required to simply say, “NO” to outside pressures.
I’m often asked when speaking to parents of teenagers how can we help our kids feel better about themselves? How can we build self-esteem in our children? The first thing I say is contrary to popular belief. You can’t build a kid’s self-esteem. All you can do is create space for them to grow, and demonstrate how to be a decent human being, who cares about others.
The best way to teach, is to model that behavior. Who are you influencing in the way you dress, behave, and talk? What can you do today to bring your actions more into alignment with your words? Walk like you talk. Show, don’t tell. Your teenage daughters, sisters, nieces, and mentees are paying attention.
Until next time, I’m Francine Ward, Author, Lecturer, and Self Esteem coach, sharing bold, yet simple ways to build self esteem. Join my conversation on Facebook, Twitter.