Teens should learn to use social media together with an adult 

For tweens and teens, social media platforms provide a good opportunity to define their identity and express themselves.

Hamide Sedaghat

Riband Kurd

Published 30.01.2024 8:04

Updated 31.01.2024 10:27

Teenagers are using social media to get information about fashion and beauty.

“By modifying their external appearance, such as hairstyling or wearing makeup, individuals express themselves. Such actions are part of adolescence and the feeling of acceptance,” says Kaisa Önlen, the expert of digital youth work. 

She works at Nuortennetti, the web site for 13–21-year-old youths, run by Mannerheim League for Child Welfare. The purpose of the webpage to provide information for young people and their parents and also offer a forum for young people to chat. 

According to Önlen the effects of social media can be good or bad in teenager’s life.  

“Through social media, young people of all kinds find empowering and inspiring content beyond their friends. Global networks are important to them, expanding their worldview.” 

On the other hand, social media can bring out appearance pressures. Teens can for example compare themselves with famous people and feel humiliated, depressed and anxious. 

“Teenagers start paying more attention to their bodies. Beauty standards can be distorted on social media. Even ordinary peers create pressure.” 

Negative emotions and situations that are part of life are often edited out of social media. 

“This may narrow a young person’s understanding of what is normal.” 

Other potentially harmful aspects of social media are for example cyberbullying and that young people may unknowingly be exposed to content that influences behaviour and consumption. 

“For example, X and Meta are platforms whose business includes selling advertising space to advertisers. Social media users are sold a lifestyle, not just a product to consume. Advertising is subtle, and sometimes, one may not even recognize the content as an advertisement.”  

School nurse helps with issues of self-esteem   

Sanna Hokkanen, who works as a nurse in a secondary school had noticed that students from grade five start to pay more attention to their style and beauty. 

She says it’s important for teenagers to be similar to their peers. 

”Mostly teens do not talk when they feel pressure from their classmate to have a specific style. However, when I have meetings with students, special teenagers, we talk about self-esteem, how they think about themselves, different feelings, and the way teens can contact and communicate with them”.  

“It would be very beneficial if they would have teaching in how to use social media.” 

Social media should be practiced with an adult 

Önlen agrees that children should be taught on how to use social media. For example, when a child receives their first mobile device, its use should be practiced and learned together with an adult. 

“It’s like learning to ride a bike. When we give our children a bike, we also teach them how to ride it. We also teach them traffic rules. Digital tools can be utilized for creative activities even without an internet connection.”   

Experimenting with one’s appearance is a natural part of adolescence, reminds Önlen. 

“In my opinion, it is permissible during adolescence, as long as it does not harm oneself or others. Modifying one’s own body becomes problematic when it is detrimental to one’s health.” 

“The sense of belonging to a group is a natural human need.”