Every day there are articles about social media and how it affects our children. I see the issue when kids sit next to each other, not talking, but texting or posting. My own daughter got in trouble with her coach for inappropriate texts when she was in high school. I feel like social media can be a landmine for our children. What can we do as parents to help them avoid the problems and pitfalls?
In the Washington Post’s article “5 ways parents can help kids balance social media with the real world,” the author Adrienne Wichard-Edds, gives practical advice on what to do about the constant presence and temptation of smartphones and kids.
“According to a 2015 report from Common Sense Media, teens spend an average of nine hours a day consuming online entertainment.
“In search of advice on how to parent teens whose social lives hinge on a click, I turned to Ana Homayoun, a Silicon Valley-based expert on teen behavior. Her book Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World comes out next month.
“We’re having the wrong conversations with our kids around social media,” she says. “When we focus on fear and judgment — when we say ‘don’t do that because you’ll get in trouble,’ or ‘if you do that, you won’t get into college’ — kids will just go underground and find other ways to hide their online interactions.”
We all want our kids to be in the real world and spend less time online. But, what can we do about it? I’ve heard people argue that social media is fine and it’s a new way of communicating. My parents were annoyed with my brother and me who talked on the phone with our best friends for hours. My parents said more than once, “Why don’t you go over to their house, or have them over?” Kids no longer are attached to a long cord hooked to the wall but are posting and texting instead.
Here are five tips discussed in the article:
“Check your kid’s phone. “Particularly in middle school but also in high school, kids should know that parents can ask for their phones at any point and be allowed full access,” Homayoun says.
“Be app-savvy. “If your kid is on it, you should be, too,” Homayoun says of apps and social media platforms. “You don’t have to have an account, but at least try it out so you can have informed conversations about it. If your kids know that you understand the social media they’re using, they’re more likely to come to you to talk about issues that pop up.”
“Help kids understand their “why.” Inspire kids to act out of internal motivation instead of fear, Homayoun says, by helping them build their own filter. “Encourage your kids to ask themselves ‘Why am I picking up my phone? Am I bored, am I lonely, am I sad? Am I just uncomfortable because I’m in a room where I don’t know anyone?’
“Set clear ground rules. Talk to your kids about appropriate social media use before you give them a phone or allow them to download a new app, says Homayoun.
“Create opportunities for digital detox. “Give kids a budget to plan their own screen-free adventures — don’t just say, ‘Okay, kids, get offline and come do some chores,’ ” Homayoun says. She also points out that kids need to learn how to be okay with being offline.”
I’m curious about how other families deal with social media. My kids are older and I was the mom who said “no” to MySpace, Facebook etc. My kids had prepaid flip phones and their big thrill was to get one with a camera. Also, very few kids back then had access to smartphones. It was a big discussion with fellow parents about what age kids should have them. Now, they are part of our daily lives and I bet more kids have them than not.
What are your strategies for dealing with social media and younger kids?
They will learn from their mistakes if we allow them to. Don’t solve their problems for them.
An article today in The Baltimore Sun by Andrea K. Mcdaniels called, “Parents’ concern: Is social media bad for teenagers?” has quite a few experts and studies weighing in. They’ve found good and bad outcomes, but it seems to me the bad ones outweigh the good.
So the list of problems with social media includes sleeping problems, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicide. Does anyone see a problem with this trend? I’ve written about my concerns about social media and how it affects on kids here.
Have you ever had a relaxing day at the beach and watched young teens posing for that perfect Instagram pic? It’s quite funny to watch from a distance. I mean who goes to the beach with perfect hair and makeup? Not me! I prefer a big hat, a ponytail and a good book, thank you very much.
Where I live, we have a phenomenon called Desert X, a series of outdoor art installations that appeared this Spring. One I call “The Selfie House” in reality is called “Mirage.” It’s a house installed with mirrors inside and out. It attracts young women dressed in bizarre outfits with friends with the sole purpose of getting a huge volume of social media clicks. The Los Angeles Times wrote about Mirage here.
Here’s a snippet from the article “Parents’ concern: Is social media bad for teenagers?”
“A study published earlier this year by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine with support from the National Institutes of Health found that the more time young adults spent on social media, the more likely they were to have problems sleeping and to experience symptoms of depression.
“Another study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the incidence of major depressive incidents has increased dramatically among teens, particularly among girls, and that cyber-bullying may be playing a role.
“At American University, researchers found a link between social media use and negative body image, which can lead to eating disorders.”
As parents, what can we do to keep tabs on how social media is affecting our kids?
Delay when your kids get smartphones.
Keep an eye on what they’re posting.
Talk to your kids about how social media is creating issues for many kids.
Be involved in your kids’ lives and pick up on cues if things seem off. Maybe social media is behind it.
What suggestions do you have to keep our kids safe from the bad effects of too much social media?
Put the phone down and spend time together. We can be guilty of texting with a friend when our child is with us. Be in the moment and with the person next to you.
The sad truth is that my kids don’t need me as much as they used to. My days are no longer spent driving to school and the pool, volunteering in the classroom, packing lunches or helping out on the swim team.
I used to do way too much for my kids. All the time. I drove forgotten homework to school, suits to the pool and all the little things to totally incapacitate my children’s development to grown-up adults.
So, when my daughter called and said she got an email and her classes were going to be dropped on Friday—if tuition wasn’t paid—I didn’t exactly jump to take care of it. I’ve learned from my prior mistakes and write parents tips on how I wished I’d have parented for SwimSwam.com.
Next, she begged me to call the school. I held firm that she should handle it by herself.
She asked me why I hadn’t paid tuition? That one stopped me. We don’t pay tuition. She earns it through a swim scholarship and she must certainly be aware of that fact. I guess she was really worried and upset. She is in her major and excited about her classes.
I assured her there wasn’t anything to worry about. The financial aid office was probably processing scholarships and hadn’t gotten to hers yet. She’s had lifelong experience at being a W and at the end of the alphabet, after all. Her classes were not in danger of being dropped. Still, she was concerned and wanted me to take care of everything.
I finally broke down and called. While I sat on hold for 30 plus minutes and got transferred around from office to office, I wondered why I was doing it at all? The times I’m asked by my son or daughter to help them are few and far between. I’m thankful for that. So, when she did ask for my help, I decided to go against my better judgment and experienced “parenthoodness” and pampered her.
In the end, there are FERPA things and I couldn’t help her anyway. What’s FERPA you ask? Once your child is in college and you want to make calls, or check out their grades, etc. you’ll learn that you don’t have any rights to do that—unless your child fills out a form and gives you those rights.
“The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.” http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html
So, a good thing to think about is that if you’re doing everything for your child and they leave for college and need your help—you just might not be able to help them.
When do you think it’s okay to do too much for your children? How do you overdo it in the parenting arena?