Navigating the World of Social Media Influencers: A Guide for Parents
Social media influencers have become powerful individuals who often shape the opinions and beliefs of others due to strong connections with their audiences. In today’s fast-paced digital world, attention has become a valuable commodity.
However, the impact of social media influencers on youth mental health is a growing concern. For example, most recently, the controversial actions and statements of social media personality, Andrew Tate. His rise to fame has made him a polarising figure, amassing a significant following of mostly young males. Educators and families have raised urgent concerns about the damaging nature of Tate’s narrative, worried that his messages may radicalise students and create a generation of young men with regressive and harmful beliefs.
Young people often compare themselves to the idealised lives presented by influencers, leading to feelings of inadequacy, low self-worth, and dissatisfaction. Social media algorithms may also expose them to inappropriate or harmful content such as explicit material, promotion of harmful behaviours, or distorted perceptions of body image or mental health.
As parents and people who have the opportunity to be a positive influence in young people’s lives, it is important to guide a young person’s social media use and promote open communication. Be curious to comprehend why they might be drawn to radical influencers, like Andrew Tate, and actively seek understanding as part of the solution. Not all influencers have a negative impact, many, in fact, promote an ethical and positive message. Nevertheless, parents play a vital role in teaching and promoting critical thinking skills and ensuring a balanced approach to social media. By actively modelling kindness, respect and positive values, parents can help tackle the sway of radical influencers and be part of the solution to countering unhealthy messaging that is often taken as fact by young people.
The latest Special Report on SchoolTV looks at social media influencers and provides guidance on how best to respond to misinformation and disinformation, instead encouraging critical thinking and emphasising the value of real-life connections. Important considerations suggested are:
- Understand the influence
- Foster open communication with your child
- Set digital boundaries and regularly check these to ensure ongoing safety
- Encourage critical thinking—is what is being said actually fact?
- Emphasise self-worth—true happiness comes largely from within, not all from external validation
We hope you take a moment to reflect on the information offered and if this raises any concerns for you, a loved one or the wellbeing of your child, please consider contacting the school counselling service or seeking other professional or medical help.
To view the latest special report, please click here.
Jay Smith, Head of Guidance