Handling Social Media Stress for Teens

Handling Social Media Stress for Teens

In today’s world, most communication happens through the internet, facilitated by numerous applications. The web is a lively center filled with various activities such as news, videos, education, blogs, gaming, activism, and entertainment. Notably, social media apps have morphed into the digital meeting points for netizens. Our society is undeniably superbly interconnected, and our digital persona is greatly treasured.

However, this isn’t always beneficial, especially for teenagers who may be overwhelmed by the deluge of information, leading to stress. Stress is a common part of our daily lives, emerging from our education, employment, relationships, and surroundings. A similar situation transpires online. In fact, we tend to cope with stress by expressing our frustrations, confronting problems directly, or evading the issue altogether. Yet, the ways to cope with stress in the virtual world differ. Online stress can arise from unique triggers, and its repercussions can rapidly escalate and proliferate at an alarming rate.

Causes of Social Media Stress in Children

The rise of social media has brought a concerning phenomenon – social media stress in children. As these young individuals navigate the complex virtual world, they often encounter a range of stressors that can significantly impact their emotional and psychological well-being. Understanding these underlying causes is a crucial step in addressing and mitigating the adverse effects of social media on our younger generations. Let’s delve into the causes of social media stress in children and shed light on the various factors that contribute to this growing issue:

  • Peer pressure: The most important reason children are online is to connect with friends. To keep this friendship alive and kicking, they often blindly copy the group leaders, even if they are uncomfortable with their actions.
  • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): Teens, especially girls, have a competitive spirit when it comes to online presence and don’t want to be ‘the last to know’ so, they end up spending a lot of time online.
  • Keeping up with the Jones’: The same competitive spirit leads kids to spend hours posing and selecting the perfect pics to share online or seek approval from strangers. This is risky, as negative comments online can harm self-confidence.

Other Triggers of Social Media Stress

Besides the more obvious and well-documented sources of social media stress in children, there exist several other significant triggers that contribute to the overall stress levels experienced by young individuals in the digital age, and these may include:

  • Excessive sharing: When kids share a lot of their private information on social media, they leave themselves vulnerable to hacking and open themselves up to contact from inappropriate individuals online.

Dig Deeper: The Ultimate Guide to Safe Sharing Online

  • Cyberbullying: Most kids have witnessed or experienced some form of cyberbullying and often end up as either perpetrators or victims, or mute spectators. In all cases, this is a disturbing occurrence.

Dig Deeper: More Dangers of Cyberbullying Emerge—Our Latest Connected Family Report

  • Lack of screen time limits and lack of empathy: Lack of digital balance can have psychological effects, so digital usage rules are necessary. Similarly, when children are not taught to respect others and their traditions, they do not develop empathy and may bully those with differing views and lifestyles.

Dig Deeper: 5 Screen Time Principles to Establish When Your Kids are Still Babies

The Role of Parenting

Parenting plays a major role in helping children learn how to tackle social media stress. As parents, you know your children the best. Yes, even teens. Observe them, and if you note any change in their social media habits or general behavior, talk to them. The earlier you start having frank one-to-one conversations, the easier it will be for you later. But before that, you may need to modify your response to stress and learn to control your reactions. That way, you will teach them a very important lesson without using a single word.

Helping Kids Fight Social Media Stress

Children can learn to manage social media stress by developing a healthy online etiquette and creating boundaries for their online activities. Encourage them to accept differences and realize that people have varied opinions. Remind them not to make judgments based on someone’s online bio and pictures and to understand that life isn’t a bed of roses for anyone. Another important step is to help them understand how important it is to respond tactfully when things get heated online. It’s essential that they understand the power of choosing not to engage in online altercations. Being silent doesn’t mean they’re weak but smart enough not to get provoked. If any online situation becomes too intense, they should be encouraged to report and block the perpetrator immediately.

McAfee Pro Tip: Since each child’s level of maturity and cognitive capacity to manage online challenges varies, a one-site-fits-all approach to balancing social media and mental health won’t work for everyone. Find tips on how to find the best method for your child.

Practicing Digital Balance and Awareness

One of the keys to managing stress caused by social media is ensuring that kids practice digital balance. Set screen time limits and encourage them to make and maintain friendships in the real world. In-person interactions promote emotional growth and provide a well-rounded social experience. Moreover, it’s crucial to instill the idea that maturity is about staying true to their values and wisdom lies in identifying the negatives and avoiding them. Just as they would in the physical world, they should be aware that the digital world comprises both good and bad elements. This awareness can help them navigate online spaces safely. Let them know the importance of applying their real-life values in the digital world and the mantra of STOP, THINK, CONNECT, should always be in their mind before posting anything online.

Dig Deeper: 6 Steps to Help Your Family Restore Digital Balance in Stressful Times


In conclusion, parents play a crucial role in helping their children tackle social media stress. By observing their kids’ behavioral changes, having open conversations, and setting appropriate boundaries for their online activities, parents can help their kids navigate the digital world safely. Encouraging children to accept differences, practice tact, maintain digital balance, and be aware of the good and bad online can help alleviate the stress caused by social media. Ultimately, the goal is to create a healthier and happier online space for children, free from unnecessary stress.

Improve your digital parenting with McAfee’s Parental Controls. This security tool allows parents to monitor device usage, set limits on screen time, and even keep tabs on kids’ whereabouts.​

Introducing McAfee+

Identity theft protection and privacy for your digital life

FacebookLinkedInTwitterEmailCopy Link

Stay Updated

Follow us to stay updated on all things McAfee and on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats.


More from Family Safety

Back to top