Social media plays a significant role in teenagers’ lives. Online communities are an integral part of how teens meet, connect, and feel value, but studies have shown that social media may be a contributing factor to the rise in anxiety and depression among teens. So, how can you help your child deal with the precarious world of social media when they come to you and ask, “‘Why Was I Unfriended?”
Denise Hunter, MD — better known as “Dr. D-Nice Beaugelin” in her practice — is an Adolescent Wellness Specialist and has been a medical doctor for over 20 years. While Beaugelin treats adults in her medical practice, her passion is helping teens and young adults focus on whole-body wellness. Beaugelin says there are three keys to help your kids manage the pitfalls of being unfriended on social media.
1. Recognize the Reality
Parents of today’s teens did not grow up with social media, so the lack of understanding is real. Beaugelin cautions that even if parents might not understand or be able to relate to it, they must recognize the impact an unfriending can have on a teen.
“This is a true loss that hurts deeply,” Beaugelin tells Parentology. “It’s just as horrendous as being disinvited to a sweet sixteen party or walked past in the hallway by someone who you thought was your friend.”
Beaugelin suggests that your teen reach out to the friend directly to find out why they may have unfriended them. Often times it can be a mistake or simply a misunderstanding that communication can clear up. If your teen has truly been unfriended, then it’s time to help them cope.
“It hurts, you feel rejected, you feel not part of the group and every teen wants to be accepted and be part of the group,” Beaugelin says.
2. Making a Positive Move
Helping your teen acknowledge and accept the loss can be tricky, but Beaugelin says you should communicate honestly with them. She recommends unfriending them back — not as retaliation, but as a form of acceptance.
“It takes two people to be a friend. So, if they’ve unfriended you, then you’re not friends. Don’t follow them anymore,” she says, adding that it’s important to accept that this person is no longer a part of your circle. “It’s the equivalent of someone telling you they don’t want to be friends anymore and still calling and texting and showing up at their door.”
Teens need to mourn the loss. They’ll have to feel the feelings and go through the process of loss. Beaugelin suggests teens give themselves a brief time to examine their feelings, but not get stuck in an unhealthy pattern. You can help them work through some possibly uncomfortable scenarios. Help your teen role-play how they will deal with the situation with other friends, or what they’ll do when confronted with their former friend.
3. Connecting with Love
Focusing on the positives in their life will help teens remember that, while this may hurt, they have lots of reasons to feel loved. Help them:
- Think about their relationships and put the attention on the people who love them.
- Focus their attention on the friends they do have.
- Understand that relationships change and people move in and out of your life — and while that’s sometimes painful, it’s perfectly normal.
Beaugelin recommends asking your teen what they may have learned from this friend. “As a parent, you can really help them sit down and figure out, ‘OK, so what was the purpose of this person in your life?’ Maybe they’ve fulfilled that purpose and you just have to move on now.”
Keep having the difficult conversations with your teens, so they know that you’re an empathetic ear.
“These are people becoming adults and you can’t fix every problem for them, but what you can do is be the person, the ear for them,” she says. While many parent’s first instinct is to help their child fix the problem, Beaugelin cautions against that. “Life is going to be filled with disappointments. Honestly, as a parent, you’re going to have to let your teen move through this one.”
Alos understand that this kind of a situation is not resolved with one conversation. Beaugelin recommends carving out some time to check in with your teen continuously to see how they’re coping. Let your teen know that you’re there for them and try to understand what they’re going through, even if it’s vastly different than your own teenage experience.
“Even if you as a parent feel that this is not the real world, it is the real world for them,” she says.
Why Was I Unfriended? — Sources
Dr. D-Nice Beaugelin— a.k.a. Denise Hunter, M.D.