Mind & Body

Why Being Young and Famous Can Hurt the Psyche and How Parents Can Help Teens Deal with Social Media Relationships

A psychologist's tips for dealing with technology and teen relationships
TIMEApril 28, 2016

For young stars, it’s fame. For the average teen, it’s the virtual waves of social media that stir up uncomfortable or seemingly uncontrollable emotions.

Dr. Sherrie Campbell, a licensed counselor, psychologist, and marriage and family therapist, explains why famous teens so often go off track and offers tips for parents and teens to help navigate the social media waters. Answers have been edited for clarity.

Epoch Times: What is it about being famous that causes young stars (like Justin Bieber) to go off track and end up having difficulties with the law or in their personal lives?

Dr. Sherrie Campbell: These kids have too much money, too much freedom, and too much power. They are often the center of the family and the main source of income. They are children but have the freedom of an adult, and they end up losing themselves in that freedom.

All young adults crave and need discipline, whether they realize it or not, and when everyone feeds off them, their income, their fame, and no one says no, they become lost. They act out because they are searching for a no so they can balance.

Epoch Times: Are there examples of young stars whose parents or managers do something different that enables them to stay on track?

Dr. Campbell: The parents whose kids are doing well and are also famous have more control over their kids, like the parents of non-famous children.

For example Dakota Fanning remained in high school and was not given full access to her money. Her parents kept her life outside of Hollywood as normal as possible. She was homecoming queen, a cheerleader, and still one of the best child stars in Hollywood to date.

Managers and parents should not let kids have full access to the freedom their money brings them. They still need to set rules, goals, limits, and boundaries.

Epoch Times: The advent of social media platforms has created a culture of fear in many teens and pre-teens who are constantly on edge over the fact that someone might say something mean about them online. What recommendations do you have for teens about coping with and overcoming this fear?

Dr. Campbell: I deal with this every single day in my office. The bottom line is that Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the like are all used to self-promote and to denigrate others publicly.

I have my teens block or delete those who hurt them on social media, and I encourage them not to fight back in that forum but to just keep quiet and move on. There is ultimately no way to fully protect, … but if you don’t react, just like any other kind of bullying, it eventually stops.

Epoch Times: What recommendations do you have for parents to help their teens with social media bullies?

Dr. Campbell: Help them to understand that people can be whoever they want to be online, but when you confront them in person, they often buckle.

If you give social media bullies too much attention, you reward them for the behavior, and they will continue doing it. If it gets totally out of hand, then as parents, you may need to get involved with printed evidence and either confront the other person’s parents or go to the school, which can often make things worse for your child.

Epoch Times: In your book “Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person,” you say we can find meaning in the suffering we endure and develop more patience to endure. Why are these important for healthy relationships?

Dr. Campbell: Social media provides instant gratification and reaction, where people are taking less and less time to process what they really think before they respond. There is much value in either not responding at all or taking your time to find the response that will be the most truthful and effective for you.

Dr. Sherrie Campbell has a private practice in Yorba Linda, Calif. sherrietherapy@aol.com

June Kellum
June Kellum is a married mother of three and longtime Epoch Times journalist covering family, relationships, and health topics.