The rise of social media has changed our lives in almost every single facet of our lives. One of the biggest shifts it has caused is how teenagers interact. While it can be a wonderful tool, there are many aspects of social media that parents should be aware of in order to keep their teens safe and happy.
Since social media platforms aren’t going anywhere, you should keep yourself informed. One phenomenon, known as “sadfishing” has become prevalent, and you should be aware.
It’s a well known fact that teenagers are quite impressionable and susceptible to peer pressure. That means that the more time spent on their phones, the more they are exposed to and unfortunately that can mean bad influences.
Rebecca Reid, a writer for Your Teen Magazine has coined the term “sadfishing.” It essentially describes a photo that is posted by someone that shows them being sad (they could be crying or just looking very sad), while sharing a gut wrenching or emotional anecdote. While many of these stories can be true, sometimes these can become a cry for attention.
Sharing true emotions is certainly an important aspect of social media, but it’s important to be able to tell the difference between a genuine cry for help or raising awareness of a situation from someone who is looking for attention.
The phenomenon of sharing sad stories has become quite popular among teenagers, and it makes sense. Humans crave affirmations, and so it isn’t surprising that these kinds of posts end up with a lot of engagement from peers. This type of attention will often become intoxicating, leading to more of these sad posts, and it becomes a vicious cycle.
As a parent, you need to be able to distinguish between a legitimate cry for help and a virtual pity party. According to Parents magazine, “When a teen is posting song lyrics that are blatantly depressing, sharing about how hopeless their life is, or even referencing self-harm and suicidal ideation, they want your attention—whether it’s a conscious desire or not.”
The other component of these type of posts involves those who are viewing them. “Sadfishing” posts can be alluring to teens who are not experiencing depression or anxiety. Since everyone, and especially teenagers, craves attention, these kind of posts can become contagious.
The other side effect could be a teen that is discovered to have been exaggerating merely for attention. This child could then suffer from humiliation and even shaming and online bullying.
If your teen is experiencing serious struggles, it’s crucial to seek out professional help and take it very seriously. It’s also important to check in on your teenagers to see if they are looking for attention with these kind of posts. Talk to your teen and explain why this kind of post may not be the best idea.
As with everything internet, social media, and technology related, it’s all about balance. As parents, we can only do our best and make sure our kids know that we are there to help and that we are on their side.