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While we may love or loathe it, social media is here to stay. It’s great for catching up with family and friends, sharing news, and keeping up on what’s happening in the world but social media can take up too much of our time – and it’s not doing our kids any favors, either.

Adolescence is traditionally a period of building social skills, navigating friendships and riding a roller coaster of hormones, however social media is promoting new challenges: anxiety and lower self-esteem. Between the constant comparisons of looks and lifestyles, cyberbullying and the boldness so many find behind a keyboard, our teenagers are constantly bombarded with virtual interactions that leave them feeling anxious, unworthy, and surprisingly lonely.

Besides leaving kids emotionally depleted, social media is also robbing teenagers of necessary communication skills. Online friendships rarely require interpersonal aspects of communication, which are necessary for successful real-life friendships. We often hear teens complain that telephone conversations are too intimidating. It stands to reason an actual conversation might be scary since most of their interactions take place on a keyboard or a smartphone.

This article further details the challenges teenagers face in the age of technology and offers advice for parents who want to minimize the risks associated with the social landscape. (Hint: put your phones away, mom and dad. Teach by example!) If you feel your teen needs extra help with social skills or building self-esteem, Zier Institute has several programs and social groups designed to get kids talking IRL again.