Looking at the world through the lens of social media makes life look dark for many teens. Eight out of 10 teens feel social media negatively affects relationships, according to a survey for My Future-My Choice, an Oregon program designed to help younger teens resist unhealthy peer pressure. In the financial sphere, H&R Block chief marketing officer Kathy Collins told U.S. News and World Report that social media is fueling teen anxiety about money. Eighty percent of today’s teens are already worried about finding a good job and borrowing too much in student loans.
But the good news is that social media can also provide tools to equip teens for handling life’s challenges in relationships, finances and other important areas of life.
Despite the daily drama that the media emphasizes, most news isn’t negative, and some social media sites for teens are dedicated to putting a more positive spin on life. For the past decade, the Emmy-winning Teen Kids Network has featured young newscasters presenting the news in a format designed to be informative, educational and fun. Its Facebook page can help teens see the brighter side of what’s happening in the world, as well as inform them about issues they should be concerned about.
Social media can also help steer teens away from the negative side of relationships. For instance, Kidzworld, the leading safe social network for younger Internet users, has a teen advice column with tips that can be shared through social media. Anna Coyne created a Pinterest board dubbed Healthy Teen Relationships that features infographics and images with messages to boost teen awareness of unhealthy relationship patterns.
Social media can also help teach kids how to manage their money. Disney and T. Rowe Price have teamed up to provide the Great Piggy Bank Adventure, an online game families can play to teach financial basics to children ages 8 and up. The Girl Scouts’ website includes shareable financial literacy posts, supporting the organization’s broader Global Financial Empowerment Initiative. More sophisticated teens can benefit from following resources such as budgeting guru Dave Ramsey’s Facebook page or J.G. Wentworth’s financial information tweets on its Twitter feed.
Social media provides a variety of resources to support teens in their educational endeavors. For example, the PBS Learning Media site features multimedia tools to teach science, social studies, math, and English. For older teens seeking college guidance, the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s website includes a page dedicated to helping families plan their children’s transition from high school to college.
While many teens use social media for virtual games, digital networks can also inspire them to get out and engage in physical activity. Sports Illustrated For Kids has an online counterpart geared towards inspiring enthusiasm in young fans. Players looking for practical tips to improve their game can browse general sports instructional sites such as Sportskool, dedicated to bringing active families sports tips for better performance and higher scores, or on sports-specific sites such as Baseball Tutorials or USA Basketball, which feature article advice and video tutorials from top-notch coaches.