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?


Talking About Gaming Disorder

Here is the third episode of my new adventure, Parenting Beyond the Headlines - a podcast I am hosting with my colleague and friend, Sarah Cody. We are going deep into the headlines and talking with experts about current events, how they affect our families, and how to talk about them in a meaningful and family-friendly ways.

In this episode, we talk to special guest, Michael Robb, Senior Director of Research at Common Sense Media about the recent classification by the World Health Organization of “gaming disorder.” What is the disorder, how likely are kids to develop it, and what should we be looking for? Michael shares some great strategies.

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My Kids Are on the World Wide Web...Now What???

My Kids Are on the World Wide Web...Now What???

My teens begged for Instagram accounts. Then it was Facebook. And then Snapchat. And new apps continue to appear with great frequency. I resisted for quite some time. Isn’t a phone enough? I knew that once they signed up I would have to be super vigilant and get involved. It wasn’t that I was nervous about them entering the world of social media (I was, but the fear wasn’t stopping me), but I was not sure I had the bandwidth for one more thing. The edtech expert in me knows that in order to help kids develop a filter for right and wrong and appropriate and inappropriate, I would need to jump in with them.

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