The Balancing Act: Facebook Fever and Reasons For Therapy
Every other week, Sonali Gupta draws on more than 10 years of experience as a clinical psychologist to answer readers’ questions about parenting, family dynamics, relationships, mental health, and more.
Facebook Fever: My 12-year-old daughter wants to create an account on Facebook in spite of she being underage. How do I explain to her the need to stay away?
I can understand how tricky this situation can get. This is a stage when preteens and teens may feel peer pressure if their close friends have chosen or have been supported by parents to open Facebook accounts.
I would suggest having a conversation with your daughter so she can explain her reasons for being on Facebook. Once she feels that you’ve heard her, she may be more receptive as you engage with her about the possible risks it entails.
The Facebook official policy states that children below 13 years cannot open an account, and that underage accounts can be reported. However, many parents are help their children open these accounts at a younger age. It’s a serious decision to make; a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that overexposure to social media could lead to Facebook depression, a condition in which children who spend too much time on Facebook feel unacceptable to peers, predisposing them to risky behaviour as well as anxiety. Too much social media use can trigger a downward spiral into an addictive virtual world where young people escape from real life interactions. (Read more about the link between social media use and depression on The Swaddle.)
Talk to your daughter specifically about cyberbulling (what it means to be a victim and a bully), sexual predators and the dangers of posting or sharing information – and what to do if she feels unsafe online – so she understands the Internet is the real world, too, where certain etiquette needs to be followed. Explain the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, connecting it back to your own family’s value system.
Most importantly, assure her that your concerns come from a place of concern for her well-being. Tell her that, though you trust her, you don’t trust the intentions of others (for example, sexual predators).
Only you, as a parent, can make the choice about what age would you like your child to open a Facebook account. Whatever age this is, be sure to communicate to your child that there are other, safer and more reliable means of being in touch with friends.
Wondering Why: I’m not sure if I have a specific concern that I need to discuss. But I have been wondering for a very long time if people seek therapy for self-growth?
Yes, they do! I love your question. I have many clients who have reached out to me and said they need to understand themselves better. Others want to learn how to develop compassion, while still others seek help to strengthen their intuition.
The process of therapy is to help people find their own answers. It is definitely not advice-giving, and hence, it doesn’t need to be embarked on to solve a specific problem. As compared to self-help books, therapy helps people not just change at a cognitive level, but also an emotional level. It triggers a process of dialogue and examination of one’s existing patterns, thoughts and behaviours, which may not be healthy. Self-growth is a continuous, life-long process. The therapeutic relationship provides people with the tools and resources that help them introspect, find personal meaning, and grow.
The goal of all therapy is to create a self-sufficiency, strengthen personal resources and develop more healthy mechanisms of self-care. Generally, therapy helps not just the person seeking it, but also his or her relationships, work environment, child care and even creative processes.
People reach out in therapy in order to learn about managing emotions, moods, anxiety and stress; to develop resilience, assertiveness, self-care, compassion and healthy self-esteem. Sometimes, past baggage, unresolved issues, and relationships may impact our perspective about life in the present and future; therapy can help people explore those, too. People may also seek therapy to deal with mental disorders and learn to manage self-destructive behaviours.
Psychotherapy can only work if the client is willing to work his or herself. The therapeutic environment helps people become their genuine selves. As I always believe, let the clients decide their goals, the change they want to see, and finally, become their own therapist.