Developing True Identity Versus Social-Media Identity

Developing True Identity Versus Social-Media Identity

Many young people today live with constant feelings of inferiority and discontent because their self-perceptions don’t match the ideals presented in various forms of social media. Unfortunately, many of them will reach young adulthood extremely anxious about their ability to cope.

“I’m a loser in real life! The only time I’m not a loser is when I’m online.”

As they grapple with the already-challenging task of understanding themselves in relation to the world, this dangerous trend pervades the lives of far too many children, teens, and young adults. When true identity battles with social-media identity for emotional territory, kids can suffer painful conflict and develop understandable escape behaviors.

Taking away their devices just addresses the tip of the iceberg. Although it’s sometimes necessary to do this, it avoids confronting the deeper issue. Helping them develop a healthy self-concept addresses the larger problem below the water line.

Denial in epic proportions
One might argue that most parents in America are in denial over the impact of technology overuse and its effects on their children’s identities. Teaching me to drive, both of my parents gave great advice: “Always assume someone is in your blind spot.” Applying this to parenting, it’s probably wise to assume that most of us have a “blind spot” when it comes to technology and our kids.

Helicopter and Drill Sergeant parenting create dependency
Chronic helicopter parenting creates insecure kids who doubt their ability to make good decisions and succeed in the real world—so does clinging to the drill sergeant model. Both styles are the enemy of healthy identity development and can create damaging anxiety and despair. Helicopter and drill sergeant kids become unable to think for themselves or handle their own problems—they become dependent on external influences, such as social media.

Consultants empower strength
Consultant parents empower their kids to make their own decisions, live with the consequences, and learn that they are capable of coping with the real world. This style also preserves healthy parent-child relationships. Coping skills plus healthy relationships create a strong, positive self-concept that serves as an antidote for depression and dependency.

We can’t control others
At the heart of consultant parenting is the awareness that we can only increase the odds of healthy identity development. We cannot ensure it. Sometimes highly ineffective parents end up with strong kids—and highly competent parents can end up with kids who have big problems. Love and Logic guarantees that we can face life knowing we’ve done our best.

For more insight into how to overcome the tendency to be a helicopter parent or drill sergeant parent, and become a consultant parent instead, listen to our popular audio, Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants.


Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay


Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants


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