British Columbia

Age of Anxiety: coping with the stress of social media

The prevalence of social media is raising the anxiety levels of youths, says one Vancouver psychologist, but now there's an app to help teens cope.

'We get concerned and we feel like we aren't measuring up,' says psychologist on social media

Social media can cause anxiety and depression in youth because they compare how their lives measure up to what is on their friends social media page.

The prevalence of social media is raising the anxiety levels of youths, says one Vancouver psychologist, but now there's an app to help teens cope.

"We can fall into a lot of unhelpful ways of thinking, one is through comparison, we make unfair comparisons," says Kristin Buhr, a registered psychologist and director of North Shore Stress and Anxiety Clinic.

She says social media adds to the pressure that is already felt by teenagers when it comes to getting into post-secondary schools, getting a job or building a career.

"With social media, we are always putting on the front how great our lives are.... We are highlighting our best pictures with our best friends having the best time of our lives," she says.

That can cause a lot of anxiety, when reality fails to meet our expectations, says Buhr.

"We are comparing ourselves and going, 'That's not how our lives look,'" she says. "No wonder we worry."

MindShift is an app designed to help teens and young adults cope with anxiety by helping them change the way they think. (Anxiety BC)

Shifting apps

To combat the problem, Anxiety BC has tried to turn social media on its head by developing an app that helps teenagers cope with their anxiety.

"It's like a self-help coach. It gives you general information about anxiety and it talks about core strategies for managing anxiety from a cognitive behavioural perspective," says Buhr who helped develop the app, MindShift.

The app helps teens and young people cope with anxiety by changing how they think about stressful situations, because feeling some level of stress and anxiety is normal says Buhr.

"I think the reality is if we think about it on that continuum, you always experience anxiety. It is about moving it back across that line where it is not causing you significant distress and it doesn't interfering with your life. It is something we all manage," she says.

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled Age of Anxiety: In the world of social media with the CBC's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.


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