How Does Snapchat Affect Your Child’s Self-Esteem?

What you should know about Snapchat streaks and the impact social media can have on self-worth.
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With social media's rise, parents have had new challenges with kids’ handling their presence online. Social media also advertises people’s status, achievements and belongings, often fueling a desire for more. While adults can deal with these trends, kids craving popularity and acceptance become sensitive and sometimes, vulnerable.

Social Media and Kids’ Self-Worth

When a social media update arrives, it brings new connectivity opportunities and a predisposition to be judged and evaluated. Specifically, the Snapchat streak has become the most significant metric for teens, according to Business Insider. “Having more streaks makes you more popular,” says 15-year-old Will McKelvain from Arlington, Virginia.

A Snapchat streak is sending each other "snaps" for two days and more. The longer you maintain the communication, the longer your streak is. Snapchat gives special rewards for longer ones — emojis.

According to Dr. Jodi Gold, the author of “Screen Smart Parenting,” a streak is a mechanism used by Snapchat to make teens become daily users. Gold also says that the worries were not particularly about how much time kids spent on apps, but how closely they are related to the teen’s self-worth.  

“The more you cannot leave one day without being on social media, the more your identity gets wrapped up in it, [and] the more likely it’s going to have negative effects,” she said to ABC news.

What Can Parents Do?

Parents should focus on cultivating their child’s self-worth, but not on forbidding social media and apps’ use. Here are a few actionable tips to help parents deal with their kids’ self-esteem issues.

  1. Ask your kids if they follow this Snapchat trend and what their opinions are. Having a conversation will help you identify problems.
  2. Map out the strategy of “grounding your child in their self-worth.” Try to convey the message that your child is good enough; he/she does not have to please somebody or fit in.
  3. Discuss the harmful nature of the public opinion and the herd instinct. Talk about delusional results of popularity contests. Convey the idea that individuals are always unique. Your kids should strive to be who they are and without searching for fake acceptance.
  4. Turn to your family therapist, if you have one, for advice on how to tackle this subject. Ask whether he or she can share other parents’ successful examples.
  5. Set up limitations and discuss them with your child. Use a parental control app to manage screen time and online activity. This could be built-in parental control software such as Kidgy or ESET.
  6. Be a role model. Kids look up to parents. Do not plunge into the screen after getting home from work. Demonstrate that you prioritize your communication with your child over screen time.
  7. Talk about the negative consequences of any “overdose” behavior. Talk about how harmful screen time might be and provide solid examples. Convey possible health outcomes.
  8. Always keep in mind that local crisis centers provide support to families and kids with mental health issues. At least, their prevention expertise can come in handy even if your child does not struggle with these problems.

“Kids’ self-esteem depends on multiples factors. As parents, we can at least diminish the triggers that threaten their sanity and well-being and ‘teach them how to navigate social media and make the right moves that will help them.’” — Amy Jo Martin, an American author

Jerome Simas is an Ohio-based e-safety expert.


Categories: Kids + Media, Parenting, Solutions, Technology, Teens