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A psychologist’s expert tips on how to have a healthier relationship with social media.

Almost all of us, especially teenagers, are affected by social media. For example, we may derive our self-worth from the number of virtual “likes” we receive, or by how many Facebook friends we have. However, when all we see are images depicting a perfect life, we are not seeing the complete picture and destroying our self-esteem in the process. “Social media can significantly affect a teenager’s psychological well-being, increasing their feelings of self-doubt and insecurity,” said clinical psychologist Dr. Andrew Adler, Director of and Clinical Psychologist at the Adler Family Centre.

Here are some tips on coping with social media pressures.

Take a break Being constantly confronted with images of people living seemingly perfect lives can be mentally exhausting. Sometimes the best approach is simply to switch off. For example, put your phone down for a few hours a day and focus on other meaningful activities,

Value your own strengths. Writing all your positive thoughts about yourself down on paper can help you see them more clearly. Making a list of all your best traits will give you something you can refer to when you are feeling insecure.

Compete with yourself, not others. The only person in the world you need to compete with is yourself. Reminding yourself of this on a regular basis will help to reinforce the idea, until you gradually feel less insecure. “Setting your own goals instead of basing them on comparisons with others is really important for healthy personal development,” says Dr. Adler. “The reason it’s dangerous to compare yourself with other teenagers is that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. By setting goals that are based on our current and desired successes, we can avoid the trap of making negative comparisons with others.”

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