Social Media is Your Teen's Friend (Sometimes)

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If your teen ever gets stuck on difficult images or memories, social media can actually be part of a helpful coping strategy.

Difficult memories or images may get triggered by a smell, a thought, an environment, or a song and can create painful or difficult emotions that make it feel difficult for your teenager to move past that incident.

One of the tricks that we teach in our groups and in our individual sessions at the Teen Support Center is the skill of diffusion, meaning getting yourself unstuck or gaining some distance from something that's difficult for you, like a thought, or a memory, or an image that's in your mind. 

We can make this more accessible to teenagers by comparing that difficult image or that triggered memory to a photo that you post on Instagram.

If you've ever used Instagram, you know that you can put the image onto the platform and then there are different filters that you can use to adjust the brightness of that image, to adjust the colors of that image, to adjust the shadows, or the contrast of that image. Teens are really familiar with this idea putting filters on an image or changing the way that it looks in some way.

When we can encourage our teens to hold an image that's difficult for them when they're in a safe place and have the support to do so, and give them permission play around with what it looks like, to fade the intensity of the image, to change the colors of the image, what we're essentially doing is teaching our teens to learn that they have power over their thoughts, and power over the images that emerge inside their minds.

What this does is it loosens the grip that the image has over our teens as well as makes them feel like they have more power over their thoughts, that they don't need to get hooked in and triggered by these thoughts, that they can acknowledge difficulties and have control over how and when they view those thoughts and images.