teens on the internet

4 Tips To Setting Internet Rules for Teens

Internet rules for teens are a hot topic amongst parents, particularly as friendships are increasingly going or starting online for teens.

Parents bring up concerns about safety, appropriate messages, and cyberbullying.

Teens, in response, talk about how important the online platforms are for them to stay in contact with their friends or how “uncool” they would be to not be active on certain platforms.


>>> FREE DOWNLOAD: Depression & Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls <<<

10 tools you can immediately use to improve your female identifying teens’ mental health & build resistance against depression & anxiety:

 

Anxiety & Depression Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls

 

From my perspective, both parents & teens have some valid points in the discussion around internet rules. In bridging these two seemingly opposite perspectives, I often make use of the following tips in my work with parents:

4 Tips To Setting Internet Rules for Teens

internet rules for teens

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Internet Rules for Teens Tip #1: Try to involve your teen as much as possible in the decision-making process.

Your teen is significantly more likely to agree and stick to online guidelines if they have had a say in the matter. This doesn’t mean that the teen gets what they want, in fact, a sign of a good compromise is that neither party is 100% happy. Instead, have a curious conversation about why online friendships are important to your teen and take a moment to genuinely listen to their perspective. It may even be helpful to think back to your own teenage years, when friends, peers, and “fitting in” were all important topics.

Once your teen feels more understood, there is a chance to explain your perspective, whether it be concerns about screen time, privacy, online safety, secrecy, or cyberbullying. Depending on the age of your teen, your family values, and how your teen is doing in other areas such as school, the guidelines can vary from family to family. Here are a few topics that are important to explore:

  • screen time
  • privacy settings
  • the different platforms
  • appropriate messages and content
  • what information to share with who
  • peer pressure
  • what to do if an unsafe conversation happens

Pro tip: helping teens understand the why of the guidelines is an essential element of explaining your perspective.

Internet Rules for Teens Tip #2: Understand that an outright ban is likely to have negative consequences

internet rules for teens

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

While it can be tempting to ban social media, online friendships, or using certain platforms, taking an all-or-nothing approach is likely to backfire.

Having a strict ban on social media or online friendships tends to result in teen secrecy and reduces healthy and open parent-teen communication. This open communication is especially important in the event of

harmful online interactions.

And teens are smart! I have worked with teens who have hidden apps on their phone’s home screen, have multiple profiles, or even used a second phone.

Similarly, having no restrictions or regulations whatsoever can also be harmful, as your teen may not be mature enough to process the content, set healthy limits, manage their time or responsibilities, or realize how social media may be affecting them. Your level of involvement really depends on your family rules in general, and your teen specifically. For some, you may need to be more involved in setting guidelines and monitoring (at least for a time).

When deciding how involved to be in your teen’s online world, be mindful of the desire for privacy and confidentiality in conversations between friends. It might be helpful to check in on your own why and ask yourself if you are monitoring the conversations due to a legitimate safety concern, or if you are using it as a back door to understand your teen.

internet rules for teens

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Internet Rules for Teens Tip #3: Talk about online safety

Online safety is so important and encompasses many areas. Privacy settings and revealing personal information are one area to address, as default settings are rarely restricted in terms of who can access or see the information. What appropriate content is, whether in terms of messages, photos, or videos, is an important discussion to have with your teen.

Invariably, teens will be exposed to harmful comments, cyberbullying, peer pressure to engage in risky behaviours, and more. In my mind, the question is more of a “when” than an “if”, and when exposure like this does happen, hopefully, your teen feels comfortable enough to approach you with their concerns.

As a parent, this requires you to stay reasonably calm, thank your teen for their openness, and make sure any consequences are reasonable and appropriate.

An unfortunate reaction I have seen is when teens I work with disclose a harmful online interaction with their parents,  and their parents react with extreme emotion. Sometimes, parents have taken their teen’s phone away. Oftentimes, this results in the teen learning that their phone will be taken away if they share with their parents. Meaning they don’t share in the future.

Internet Rules for Teens Tip #4: Online friendships are a valid source of connection

Although online friendships look a little different than the brick-and-mortar variety, they can still provide the benefits that in-person friendships do. Many teens develop meaningful connections over the internet and describe some of these friendships as offering support, providing meaning, helping with stress, and in some cases being their best friends.

You can help your teen determine how good their friendships are (both online or in-person) with my colleagues blog article: Teen Friendships: 7 Questions to Decide if They Are Good Ones.

For teens that may be struggling to find meaningful connections in places like school, online friendships can meet that fundamental human need for belonging and connection.


>>> FREE DOWNLOAD: Depression & Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls <<<

10 tools you can immediately use to improve your female identifying teens’ mental health & build resistance against depression & anxiety:

 

Anxiety & Depression Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls
internet rules for teens

Photo by Windows on Unsplash

The bottom line to the complex and challenging topic of internet rules for teens, is that keeping a safe line of communication open between you and your teen is ultimately one of the best ways to support them in navigating online friendships.

The internet is here to stay and developing healthy ways of interacting online is a valuable skill.

Be willing to invite your teen’s perspective on setting healthy guidelines for online friendships and open to sharing your own. As much as possible, view the conversations from an “us versus the challenge” mindset, instead of a more divisive “you versus me”.

If your female identifying teen could use support with online friendships (or friendships in generally), safety on the internet, or developing social skills, I offer 1:1 therapy for Alberta residents. You can book a free consultation with me HERE.

BOOK YOUR FREE CONSULTATION

Love,

Jessa Tiemstra

Provisional Psychologist servicing female identifying teens and young adults.

 

 


Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

Popular at school

Being Popular At School: 3 Questions for Teen Girls

Being Popular At School: 3 Questions for Teen Girls

Popular at school

Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

 

Being popular at school, having anxiety about friendships, and uncertainty about the school year are topics that keep coming up with the teen girls I work with. It brings to mind a quote that has been churning in my mind recently. A quote you have likely heard!

““Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”.

 Although some sources credit the saying to Dr. Seuss, there is a disagreement over whom the original author was, with some believing it was actually Bernard Baruch. Regardless of the original authorship, I find the quote to be insightful and relevant to the teen girls I have the honour of working with (and pretty relevant to anyone, really!).

I know friendships and popularity at school are on the minds of teen girls because questions such as  “will I be with my friends?”, “what if no one likes me?”, and “what if I am not popular at school, or what if I am never popular?” are common in the therapy room. These questions shine a light on the underlying human condition to socialise and feel accepted, which, while more acute in the teenage years, is not just a “teenage thing”. I have yet to meet a person who did not long for at least some human connection, to be seen and heard, or to be liked, and similarly, who did not have a fear or at least dislike of rejection.

The relative strength of these factors vary, but in one form or another, are ubiquitous in us humans. Humans are social beings, so it makes a lot of sense why back-to-school fears about friendships and fitting in are so common.

But…just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Note: If anxiety around friendships is common for you, here is a free Anxiety Toolkit that includes 10 exercises and various free videos to help you master it:

Anxiety Toolkit

Being Popular At School: 3 Questions For Teen Girls

For teens that are worried about being popular at school, have anxiety about friendships, or a fear of not being liked, I often ask them a series of questions:

Being Popular At School Question #1: Let’s imagine for a minute that everyone liked you, what kind of world would that be?

 Most teen girls that I talk to conclude that a world like that “would be terrible”. In terms of reasons why, they say that in such a world, a person would always be changing to meet the interests of others and not be true to themselves, or they would have no boundaries or may not be standing up for what they know to be right.

Being Popular At School Question #2: Is there anything more important than being liked?

When given a chance to think about this question, many of the teen girls I work with have identified a number of things more important than being liked.

From the teen girls themselves, here are some of the reasons they commonly share are more important than being liked:

  • Being true to oneself
  • Standing up for what is right
  • Standing up for friends or family
  • Having healthy relationships
  • Being kind

Being Popular At School Question #3: Is it more important for other people to like us, or for us to like (or at least respect) ourselves?

This question is best asked last, because after exploring the previous questions, most teen girls tell me it is more important to be true to who they are and to like themselves rather than have the approval of others.

Usually, at this point in the conversation, the issue of being liked or not doesn’t feel as huge or scary of a problem as at the start.

Are some of those feelings and questions still there? Of course! But the question of being liked or popular becomes less of an identity-defining, terrifying issue.

Our team has also developed 7 questions you can ask yourself to ensure the friendships you have are good ones. You can access them in our blog article here:

Teen Friendships: 7 Questions to Decide If They Are Good Ones

This brings us back to the quote: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind”… It’s not that those people who mind “don’t matter”, but that they shouldn’t have the power or influence to dictate who you are or change your sense of worth or morality.

Do you love learning and are super into school? Awesome!

Or do you find joy in video games, anime, or make-up? Amazing!

Or maybe your spark is in sports, music, art, or volunteering? Astounding!

You befriend the new kid at school even though they dress “uncool”? Awe-inspiring.

The reality is that everyone is different, and not everyone is going to click or jive together. And that’s okay. Perhaps instead of trying to be liked, you can find the things that are more important to you and take steps towards those hopes. Hope for you may be respecting and appreciating diversity, both for others and for ourselves. Or, it could be growing in greater self-respect and self-love.

The key to ask yourself is this:

What is so important to you that it doesn’t matter if others mind?

You can access support through our free Anxiety Toolkit (for anyone), or 1:1 sessions with me (Alberta residents only).

1:1 sessions with me include a complimentary 20-minute consultation to ensure we are a good fit. If you have benefits, they are also eligible for reimbursements.

You can book your free consultation here:

Book Your Free Consultation

 

Love,

Jessa Tiemstra

Provisional Psychologist servicing teen girls and young adults.

 

 


Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

Planning For The Future After High School Graduation

 

Ahh, future planning for after high school graduation… You know those people who have always known what they wanted to do?

Photo by Canva

I am not one of them.

I remember having friends in high school who were so certain about what job they wanted to do and had thought of all the steps to get there – attend university X in city Y, and if that does not work then university A in city B. Plan A had plan B, and plan B had plan C. I admired the passion and certainty. However, I also couldn’t help but wonder if there was something “wrong” with me because I did not have that same level of passion or certainty.

Photo by Canva

Everyone’s journey is different, and I have learned that that is a beautiful thing. My journey has taken twists and turns, many of which I could not anticipate, and through a mix of choice, circumstance, and consequence, I have ended up where I am today. With this in mind, here are three tips for teens struggling with planning for after high school graduation:

Planning For After High School Graduation Tip #1:  Let Go of Unhelpful Expectations

Not everyone has that “Ah-ha!” moment or knows their dream job since they were little. There is likely no job that is 100% perfect for you, but rather a list of potential options. With every option, there will be things about the job that you like and things that you don’t. The idea of the “perfect job”, and the expectation that you need to know it at 17 or 18 years old, are beliefs that are likely not serving you well. 

If you are unsure of what direction to take, perhaps a better way to look at planning for after high school graduation is to view it as a treasure map. You don’t know exactly how to get to the treasure, and you may not even know what the treasure is, but there are always steps to take and stones to turnover along the way. Even a “dead-end” can provide you with valuable information and experience!

Planning For After High School Graduation Tip #2: Be Intentional 

Whatever you are considering after high school graduation, it can be helpful to be mindful and try to make your choices with intention. If being mindful is a new skill for you, my colleague here at Pyramid Psychology wrote an article that you may find helpful: Mindfulness for Teens: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

There is no single “right way” to live your life or pursue your dreams, and there are so many ways to learn, grow, experience, and discover more about yourself and the world around you. Life after high school graduation could look like going to university or college right away, but it could also look like spending time working or travelling, taking a gap year (or two), getting hands-on experience, volunteering, or even taking a range of courses to see what interests you.

It is important to recognize that indecision is a decision. Indecision is not inherently right or wrong, but it may lead to discouragement and regret if it is your default state for a long time. It can end up feeling like your life is happening TO you, instead of you being in the drivers seat.

Planning For After High School Graduation Tip #3: Keep Moving Forward

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With so many options and paths available, it can be easy to fall into “analysis paralysis” – dwelling, overthinking, and having thoughts spin and swirl around with no real progress or clarity. 

When this happens, try to narrow your focus, even if it is just by a bit. What interests you, makes you feel alive, or gives a sense of purpose?

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Some of the teens I work with have found it helpful to take interest tests, personality tests, and/or career tests to begin narrowing the scope of options… This is probably the psychology part of me speaking, but I think they are also kinda fun! Here is a list of potential quizzes to try out: The 13 Best Career Tests and Quizzes to Help You Find Your Dream Job.

Whether you know your dream job, have potential ideas, or have no clue at all, I hope this blog has provided encouragement and given you something to think about. I have a variety of tools available to help you through the emotional side of planning for after high school graduation; it can be helpful to learn skills for handling this, and get a new perspective on things. You can book a 1:1 appointment with me through my booking link:

 

Book an Appointment

 

 


Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

How To Handle Change For Teens

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The topic for this month at Pyramid Psychology is how to heal and handle change for teens. Significant changes have occurred for most of us in the last few years, many of which we have never experienced before.

A lot of the change has had to do with Covid-19 and all the change that has occurred at the personal, family, and societal levels. But even if Covid-19 was not actually the most significant or meaningful recent change in your life, handling change is important for you as a teen.

If the changes in your life are stopping you from living life the way you normally do, or you are feeling anxious or depressed, you can book a free consultation for 1:1 therapy with me here:

Book a Free Consultation

Here are my top two tips for handling change as a teen:

Change For Teens Tip #1: Acknowledge

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Tip #1 for dealing with change for teens is to acknowledge that the change is happening, as well as all of the associated thoughts and feelings that are coming up as a result. Change is often bittersweet and may include feelings like hopefulness, relief, excitement, and peace, but also anxiety, uncertainty, sadness, and loss. Whatever your experience may be, try to give it room to just be. It is so easy to immediately judge whatever thoughts and feelings may be coming up.

Photo by Canva

One judgement I hear a lot from the teens I work with is, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way because other people have it so much worse.” While this may be factually true, this line of thinking isn’t particularly helpful for anybody. Rather, these thoughts serve to add negative judgement and guilt on top of the existing struggle with change. It’s like another tablespoon of salt on top of an already too salty pizza.

Other people can have it worse AND you can still be struggling with your own experience; there does not need to be a competition for “who has it the worst”. Giving room for your own experience may actually help you support those around you who may be struggling. This is similar to the idea of filling your own cup before you can pour out to others. Acknowledging your experience does not mean that all the thoughts and feelings that come up are true, but it does give you the choice to be curious about them and make better-informed decisions.

Photo by Canva

Change For Teens Tip #2: The Boundary of Control

An idea I often introduce in my sessions is the boundary of control, which encourages teens to think about all the things that they can control or influence in a situation and all the things that they can not. In getting clear about this distinction, you can redirect your focus and energy into those things that you can do. Examples of things you can control when it comes to change, include your own words, actions, boundaries, beliefs, and self-care. In contrast, examples of things that you cannot control include the behaviours and words of others, what others may think, and the priorities of other people.

As an activity or point of reflection for yourself, think about what factors are inside of and outside of your control when it comes to Covid restrictions in Alberta being loosened. You can draw a circle and create a photo like the one below to add to this exercise:

Website: Laurahutchingstherapy.co.uk

Whatever change you may be facing, remember to acknowledge your experience, be curious and non-judgmental, and invest your energy into those things that you can control or influence. I believe in you!

Sometimes when you acknowledge what’s going on, you may realize that the emotions you are experiencing are a lot to handle. It’s perfectly normal to need an outside perspective or safe person to speak to. I specialize in supporting teens like you (through therapy) to navigate change in a positive way that builds ok your confidence. I would love to meet you. You can book a free consultation with me on our website:

Book a Free Consultation

 


Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

Perfectionism – 5 Questions To Ask Your Teen

Perfectionism

What is this thing anyway?

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The research defines perfectionism in a variety of ways. Without diving into the substantial research that exists on the topic, here are two perspectives on perfectionism, with links for further research.

Some perspectives view perfectionism as being a personality trait –  People with perfectionism have a tendency to be more conscientious and also score higher in neuroticism. (Neuroticism is a fancy word in the psychological literature that essentially describes a person’s tendency to experience negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, and self-doubt.)

Other perspectives view perfectionism as a combination of beliefs and behaviours

No matter how you define it, perfectionism seems to be a complex trait that consists of a dynamic mix of genetics, personality, beliefs, thoughts, and behaviours.

In addition to what perfectionism is, the focus of perfectionism can differ. You can read about three different types HERE.

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Most often though, perfectionism is talked about in a way that is directed inward. Your teen can set high expectations for themselves across contexts such as school, sports, hobbies, performances, or relationships. Having high self-expectations can come from a place of internal motivation to succeed but can also come from pressure from others or from societal expectations. In the former, your teen is running toward a goal, whereas in the latter, they are running away from a fear of failure or judgement.

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Perfectionism can also be directed outward and can be seen as rigid, high standards your teen places on others OR they are having placed on them. In this other-oriented perfectionism, there is an expectation for others to be perfect (or close to!) and subsequent negative judgments when they are not.

So, what do I do with this information?

Knowing the underlying factors influencing perfectionism can help you support your teen, or maybe even yourself – knowledge is power! Consider the following prompts for self-reflection or in conversation with your teen:

  • Where are the perfectionist tendencies coming from?
  • Are they tied to my genetics or personality traits, or have I picked up some perfectionist tendencies from somewhere else?

    Photo by Canva

  • Is my perfectionism directed at myself or others?

o   How would I like to be treated?

o   Where does the idea of compassion fit into my strivings for perfection?

  • What is the root of my perfectionism – am I striving toward something I genuinely care about or am I running away from the potential of judgement, embarrassment, or sense of failure?
  • When I “fail”, what am I telling myself? Are these thoughts true or kind?
  •  Since being perfect is impossible (we are human after all), what is a more realistic and helpful value to live by?

Photo by Canva

If you are struggling with perfectionism yourself, our team at Pyramid Psychology compiled our knowledge and wrote a blog specifically for you: Why Trying To Be A Perfect Parent Isn’t Serving You.

If you’re watching your teen struggle with perfectionism, Chantal Cote – psychologist, teen coach and Founder of Pyramid Psychology – wrote a blog article with tips to help your daughter through it: 3 Ways To Help Your Daughter Stop Perfectionist Thinking.

 

Photo by Canva

 Perfectionism is often linked to feelings of anxiety or depression, particularly in teen girls who are already prone to these emotions. We have developed a toolkit with 10 tools to help you build resilience for your daughter. You can download your free copy here:

 

Free Anxiety Toolkit for Parents Raising Teen Girls


Jessa is a provisional psychologist living and servicing teens and young adults in Calgary, Alberta.

Jessa is passionate about helping people become the best version of themselves and is continually learning how to best support her clients. She has experience with acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but most importantly she emphasizes the therapeutic relationship.

A safe, authentic relationship is key for therapy to work. Jessa prioritizes compassion and nonjudgmental curiosity. Together, she can find out what matters most to you and how to get there.

If you think Jessa may be a good match for you, please feel free to reach out and set up a free consult or book a session. She is looking forward to hearing from you!

Once a month, she writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents, teens and young adults she connects with. If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.