‘Self-esteem’ is a word that we are so familiar with but most of us do not quite understand what it entails. We neither know of its causes nor its effects: how it influences every facet of an individual’s life According to self-esteem expert Morris Rosenberg, self-esteem is quite simply one’s attitude toward oneself. It is understood as how much one appreciates and likes oneself (and others) regardless of the circumstances.
Self-esteem is coined from the two words ‘self’ and ‘esteem’. ‘Self’ simply means that it is one who is examining or estimating oneself. ‘Esteem’ on the other hand comes from the Latin word aestimae which means to evaluate, estimate or judge.

Self-estimation can be done consciously or unconsciously and can be correct, incorrect or partially correct.
Self-esteem can be low, high or healthy. Teenagers are said to have healthy self-esteem when they have a good opinion of their abilities but recognise their flaws. Teenagers like these usually like and respect themselves – faults and all. Teenagers with low self-esteem on the other hand put very little value on their opinions, ideas and focus on their perceived weaknesses. They tend to feel less sure of their abilities and their decision-making process. When youths have low self-esteem, they are at a higher risk of not fulfilling their full potential. Teenagers with overly high self-esteem may overestimate their skills and feel entitled to succeed. They see themselves as vastly superior to others and as a result, will not be motivated to improve because they already feel that they are in a good position.

Low self-esteem can be a large burden for teenagers as teens with low self-esteem are usually at the risk of being bullied – or even being bullies themselves, using alcohol and drugs, and/or having suicidal thoughts. These youths tend to shy away from taking risks of trying out new things because of fear of failure, embarrassment or making mistakes.

Many factors like age, physical appearance, disabilities, genetics, socioeconomic status, discrimination, education, childhood experiences, social media can affect the level of a youth’s self-esteem but as a factor of self-esteem with very powerful influence, social media will be the main focus of this article.

We need to understand as we move on, that contrary to popular belief, social media can promote both low self-esteem and a healthy one. Evidence suggests that while excessive use of social media negatively impacts self-esteem, moderate use may help to cultivate frienddships and reduce loneliness.

We all have a natural tendency to compare ourselves to others, knowingly or not, online or offline. Such comparisons help us evaluate our achievements, skills, personality and our emotions. This, in turn, influences how we see ourselves. But what consequence do these comparisons have on our well-being? It depends on how much comparing we do.

Dwelling on the number of “likes” posts receive and over the number of birthday greetings one gets. The problem, explains Belmont-based clinical psychologist Craig Malkin, is that such social media consumption leads to people “negatively comparing themselves to what’s portrayed on Facebook by their friends.”
To improve self-esteem, it must be understood that while various aspects of your life can affect your level of self-esteem, the person that has the most control over your self-esteem is you. To improve your self-esteem, start giving yourself good messages about who you are and stop beating yourself up on your shortcomings. Remember that no one person is less worthy than the next.

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