Insights: Social Media Leads to ‘Girl on the Edge’

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Social media has created more of a gap in the differences between generations, between parents and their children. Many parents feel powerless in understanding social media, also how to manage it.

Parents so often come into my practice shocked at what they see on their teenager’s social media accounts and feel inept in how to manage the influences. Being afraid of isolating their teenagers from their friends but also keeping them safe and age appropriate creates a lot of anxiety in how to be effective in assisting this developmental stage.

As a therapist, I see how addictive social media is for the teenage brain and how cruel it can be for these teenagers trying to figure out who they are. The parents feel scared and anxious, and the teenager copes with feeling inadequate and left behind.

And because social media is unregulated and anonymous, it’s easy for predators to take advantage of teenagers and their vulnerability.

“Girl on the Edge” effectively highlights all these relevant concerns into a powerful and, sadly, not unusual story of a teenage girl, Hannah (played by Taylor Spreitler) that is traumatized by her experiences on social media.

Her father and stepmother try to take action against the company who started the app that led to the trauma with no avail. The powerlessness the parents feel cause them to send their daughter Hannah to a wilderness residential treatment program called Maheo.

girl on the edge 2Hannah – confused, angry and in a lot of pain – was resistant to the residential program until she was able to create bonds with other girls and a therapy horse, Betsy, which started to help repair her wounds.

This movie shows the process of recovery for Hannah and the family being reunited, but not with many struggles.

“Girl on the Edge” helps to shed light on a familiar problem for this generation of teens and families. It is time for us to take these issues more seriously.

As a co-owner of a treatment center, I am constantly talking about the issues and the trauma caused by social media. This story is unfortunately way too common. Parents are often seeking advice on how to manage social media and how disconnected they feel from their teenagers.

How often do we go out to a restaurant and you see the whole family on their phones? We, as parents, need to start with role-modeling and stay connected not so much through social media but through eye-to-eye contact.

Studies on social media are showing that the brains of teenagers and their ability socially are decreasing. We are only just starting to understand the impact. I know we will see more of these studies showing the negativity on social development, self-esteem, confidence and ability to connect. It is also becoming one of the fastest growing addictions.

“Girl on the Edge” wants to stir up this conversation about the impact of social media and it’s repercussions on mental health and confronting social stigmas about therapy, and residential treatment and bringing all this into the limelight.

Writer/Producer/Director Jay Silverman was invited to speak before congress in June of 2014, which has assisted in bringing therapeutic schools and programs to the public.

My question is how do we allow the good of social media to prevail while keeping our teenagers safe and our families connected?

I do not have the answer to this question, but hope that the answers are coming soon, before another one of our teenagers is left traumatized.

Jay’s brave attempt to put a very relevant issue into a movie format works well in making the point of the serious concerns of not just social media, but also highlighting the need for effective understanding of mental health and treatment.

Please make the time to see this powerful drama that is based on a true story. It’s a must see for any parent and/or teenager.

“Girl on the Edge” screens on Monday, April 27 at 5 p.m. at Island Cinema. Visit NewportBeachFilmFest.com for details.

Contact Shelly Zavala at [email protected] or DrZavala.com.

 

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