Social media has become a top outlet for sharing information, making acquaintances across the globe, and on the most basic level, has become a source of entertainment for many. While the benefits of social media are clear, there is also a dark side that exists and it's impacting the mental health of adults and teens alike.
A wide range of issues includes sleep disruption, an increased chance for cyberbullying, and encouraging a negative body image. Young people, especially teen girls, may have a particularly difficult time recognizing when their social media use has become a problem.
(Simone Alicia, The Self Esteem Doctor Academy)
Simone Alicia, the founder of the Self Esteem Doctor Academy, told Cheddar she started the business as a means to help kids change the way they think and feel about themselves. While the company wasn't established strictly to address issues spawned from social media, she said that young people who are struggling because of time spent on social apps could greatly benefit from the courses that are available.
"Oftentimes, young girls believe they have limited options when faced with social media pressures and influences. They either compare themselves, try to keep up, or feel less than," she said. "However the resources that we gather and create in the virtual academy increase their options in more positive ways."
Multiple studies found that when young people spend three or more hours on social media per day, there is a greater chance for them to experience poor mental health and overall lack of well-being. The Mayo Clinic suggests monitoring their time spent on social apps, setting reasonable limits, and encouraging face-to-face contact with people as being among some of the ways to mitigate potential mental health problems later down the line.
Alicia noted that her company embraces young people through humor, holistic coaching, and with "elements of neuro-linguistic programming," in order to help a person analyze strategies used by people, who maintain good mental health practices, and assess how they can apply the analysis in their own lives.
"Once kids become aware that their inner talk is not just meaningless chatter, but a valuable tool for self-esteem building, then when we prove to them that they can take back control of their self-talk, thoughts, and feelings, they feel empowered. They finally know what the tools are, why they work, and most importantly, how to use them," she said.
For Alicia, personally, the process is tried and true. She noted that the classes offered at the academy include steps she implemented when her own mental health was teetering. Among the tasks she used to help boost her mental well-being were journaling, reciting positive affirmations, and meditating.
"It was, in fact, the obstacles that I faced which led me to actually becoming The Self Esteem Doctor," she told Cheddar. "I am definitely one who practices what I preach. I am passionate about leading by example as much as I possibly can."
Alicia makes clear that empowering young people to take charge of their lives and feelings is key, but she also noted the importance of planting seeds of positivity within them. A greater sense of security, self-compassion, and autonomy can be achieved with the right guidance, she said.