Am I Like-able? Teens, Self Esteem and the Number of Likes They Get on Social Media
How much do YOU “unlike” like?
I was recently on Good Morning America talking to Robin Roberts about how social media has become a constant part of the teen world. Teens are learning that the number of likes they receive is equivalent to how likable, popular and worthy that they are. While it shouldn’t be about quantity, but rather quality, given that many of these likes come from people these kids barely even know, when it comes to social media, it’s a numbers game—the more likes you receive, the better these teens feel.
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Welcome to the 100 club— the exclusive club invented for those teens who’ve received 100 or more likes on a social media photo or post. Getting the most likes is the new extreme sport. The need for likes and getting an “in” to the 100 club makes a competitive sport out of social media- where the trophy is the privilege of saying you are in an exclusive club—which is not attainable for all.
Teens are at a time in life when they want to fit in and feel the approval of peers, getting likes is an immediate, albeit flawed way, of finding out “am I worthy, am I popular and am I likeable?” Getting likes fits our immediate push-button culture and the need for immediate feedback and gratification even if it’s from people that our kids don’t know well. Not getting the likes, the positive feedback, can feel like a slap in the face and a blow to the self esteem—not good enough. You see the number of likes, but so does everyone else. It’s easy for them to wonder; am I like-able enough?
When presenting to teens and parents on this topic, here are two of the takeaways I provide:
First, break the like habit. Ask your teen, what are you hoping for when you post that photo? If the sole reason to post is to garner likes, you may have a slippery slope as it’s a self esteem trap. Make sure your teen is getting out and about, face to face with 3D people- through sports, drama club, martial arts, dance, cheer so they can get away from the likes, set meaningful goals and feel significant achievement.
Second, send a clear message to your teens that it’s who you are– not your number of likes that make you worthy. Social media can be a self esteem trap. Teens may believe it all comes down to numbers when it’s really about quality of connections with your true supporters, how you feel about yourself and the gifts you contribute to the world.
A final word:
Don’t forget– the example we set is also vital to our children. Many adults will go through their days, heads down and eyes buried into their phones, looking at how their posts fair on their social media pages. It’s easy to get caught into the same trap at their children. We must keep it all in perspective while acknowledging that everyone likes to get a pat on the back or a high five– even if it’s virtual.
Just for fun:
After my segment on Good Morning America, I ran into Taylor Swift in the elevator! What a fun, happy treat. I posted the selfie of us and you know what? I received the most likes I ever got. Ironic given the segment topic!
Here’s to you!