Metric Anxiety

Photo by  ROBIN WORRALL  on  Unsplash

Metric Anxiety Defined

How many reposts/likes/shares/retweets did you get this week? As human beings, it’s natural to seek approval from society - and many tweens and teens crave it. However, when these types of metrics begin to affect your self-worth, confidence, and wellness, you may be suffering from something called Social Media Metric Anxiety;  an intense feeling of stress or discomfort based on how you perceive your level of popularity on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You might be feeling it, and your tween or teen is likely feeling it too.

On average, we spend about two and a half hours per day on social media. These applications can be a valuable communication outlet used to connect with friends and family, potential customers, and those with similar interests. The harm comes when we become fixated on quantifying the attention our own posts receive  and equating them with our value as people. 

Social Media Currency

It can be easy to fall into the pattern of thinking, “I got X amount of likes and reactions on this post, it was a good day,” at any age. When we share our lives publicly – whether it’s vacation photos, career successes, parenting milestones, etc. – we want others to acknowledge and approve of our achievements. If we become too digitally invested in the numbers or “metrics” of a post, it may become easy to find ourselves missing out on the magic of those very real and fleeting moments when our focus is “what angle/caption/background will get the most likes?”.

Breaking the Cycle

The next time you find yourself checking alerts, tallying views, and looking for acknowledgement on social media, it may help to remind yourself of why a moment was special enough to begin with to want to share it.  The why is the most important factor after all. Recall the real emotion behind the post - was it joy, pride, sadness, reflection? 

Another solution is limiting your time on social media. If you are bored and find yourself gravitating towards your phone, pick up a book instead.  In lieu of opening your laptop, open the door and go outside. Create boundaries for yourself and your kids. And hold yourself accountable to your new routine!

If you frequently use social media, it is important to take a moment every now and then to assess how it makes you feel. Anxiety, low self-esteem, and stress are signs that you may need to limit your exposure. It can be hard to see it in your own behavior - make this a family conversation. And always remember that photos and status updates and witty captions are only one side of the story. YOU control your sense of self-worth. 

Conversation Starters

Consider talking with your kids directly. Be open to their ideas and suggestions:

  • Start by sharing your own experiences and concerns

  • How would you feel if you didn’t check your phone every day, hour, minute? Why? Should we try?

  • What would happen if you didn’t check every app every day?

  • Are there apps that make you anxious or you get excited about:

    • Do you dread checking any of them for fear of not getting the kind of response you were hoping for?

    • Do you get really excited about checking any of them?

  • Are there any apps we could try deleting to see how it goes?