Whether we like it or not – we are living in a digital age! There are many benefits to modern day technology and the online world, however, it can also have a negative impact on mental health, cause stress, and leave you feeling disconnected from the outside world. The following are tips for teens, and information for parents on how you can protect yourself, and your children from the internet.
1. Build IRL (in real life) relationships.
There is extensive research showing that real-life social contact gives you the skills necessary to keep yourself safe online.
2. Maintain perspective.
When celebrities, friends or family post on social media, they are posting their “highlight reel”. They are filtering content they post on their pages to show only what they wish for you to see. When you compare everyone’s highlight reel to your own life, this can leave you feeling pretty low. Remember: You are only seeing what they want you to see.
3. Be mindful where you get support from.
People with mental health issues often turn to online support groups that reflect or share their thoughts and moods. This can both have benefits and consequences. Look for moderated forums like those on the ReachOut website.
4. Keep your checking in check
Constantly checking social media or monitoring notifications can be detrimental to your mental health, and take up a lot of time that could be better used elsewhere. Turn off constant notifications and give yourself designated “checking” time, where you allow time in certain parts of the day to monitor social media.
5. Often, the internet can cause conflict within families, which can have a detrimental effect on wellbeing. Turn off your device of choice, and set time to really connect with family and loved ones. Be present in the here and now.
6. Screen time has been linked with poor sleep, which is linked to a deterioration in mental health. Turn off all devices at least one hour or more before bedtime.
7. Bust bullies.
The world wide web can be home to bullies or “trolls”. Ensure you block, unfollow or unfriend and person who posts things that offend you or upset you.
8. Once something is online – it stays online!
Images and content can spread quickly in the online universe. Before you send anything online, keep in mind how you would feel if your family, future employer etc saw this content. You are in control of what you send. If you feel uncomfortable, say no.