Why I think I’ll give up Facebook for Lent

images-2One of my daughter’s good friends from her club swim team gives up social media each year for Lent. I’ve been reading all these stories about how Facebook is causing stress and anxiety in young people, and I applaud this friend for taking a break each year.

I mentioned to both my kids that I thought I should give up social media for Lent as well. Their overwhelming response was “Great!: and “Thank goodness!” I have decided to give up Facebook because I am beginning to believe that if social media is causing young people distress, is it that good for us older folks? I’m going to continue to blog and my posts show up automatically on FB, and I will continue with that. But, I’m going to make a conscious effort to really connect with my friends live. I’m going to call and talk, visit in person and hey—one of my favorite things—go out to lunch!

It’s going to be an interesting experiment and I’ll let you know how it goes. Perhaps it will free up more time for my writing! I mentioned to my daughter that I still want to use Twitter because it’s where I get my news. I like to see what’s “trending.” She’s telling me that if I give up social media, I need to go all the way!

I’m a convert to Catholicism and I really knew very little about the faith and I had no clue what Lent was until I took a nine-month course called Right of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). I did this after my son was born and before I had my daughter. My husband and I wanted to raise our kids with religion, but he was Catholic while I was Protestant. We visited several churches to see where we felt at home. I believed we needed to be on the same page if we were going to raise our kids with religion, so I signed up for RCIA. I was totally moved by our former pastor and the church we decided to join.

Exactly what is Lent? I found an article called “When does Lent 2018 start? Key dates, how long it lasts and the meaning behind the Christian tradition” that explains it pretty well on the mirror.com. Here are the basic facts:

Here’s everything you need to know about the beginning of Lent, when it ends, Christian prayers and fasting as the tradition is marked between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday

When does Lent begin?

For Western churches Lent begins every year on Ash Wednesday, the day after Shrove Tuesday .

This year it begins on February 14.

The date varies from year to year, starting in either late February or early March.

However, for Eastern Orthodox churches it begins on Clean Monday (February 19 this year), two days before Western churches.
What is Lent?
Lent takes place every year in the 40 days leading up to Easter, and is treated as a period of reflection and a time for fasting from food and festivities.

It symbolises the days which lead up to Jesus’ crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, when Christ spent 40 days and nights alone in the Judaean Desert being tempted by Satan.

 

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Hanging out with real live friends at last year’s Masters swim meet.

What are your thoughts about taking a break from social media?

 

 

 

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What do you think about boosting your social media with fake followers?

 

 

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Real-life friends.

Have you read the stories about people paying for fake Twitter followers? Doesn’t that sound sad to pay for “friends?” Apparently many celebs, famous people do it as well as everyday folks. Somehow upping their numbers in followers makes them feel secure or more popular?

I was talking to my daughter this morning about social media and she told me she has real-life friends that obsess over Instagram. They work to have a perfect image and the photos she sent me of them are so ridiculous. Perfect make-up, poses, backgrounds. It looks like an incredible amount of time and effort went into these pictures. And I know these girls and in real life–they barely resemble the image they are promoting. I don’t get it.

 

I’m so thankful we didn’t have social media when I was a kid. It was nice to have a break from your “public image” and lounge around in my bedroom or in front of the TV and not worry about what everyone else was doing. There was social pressure to fit in and be popular when I was in junior high and high school. That was enough in itself without having to keep up appearances on Facebook and Instagram. I wonder how many kids today are resorting to fake followers or obsessing over their social media image?

Here’s an excerpt from “Paying to be popular: inside social media’s black market for fake followers” by Nicholas Confessore, Gabriel J.X. Dance, Richard Harris and Mark Hansen that appeared in the New York Times and Seattle Times:

“The real Jessica Rychly is a Minnesota teenager with a broad smile and wavy hair. She likes reading and the rapper Post Malone. When she goes on Facebook or Twitter, she sometimes muses about being bored or trades jokes with friends.

But on Twitter, there is a version of Jessica that none of her friends or family would recognize. While the two Jessicas share a name, photograph and whimsical bio, the other Jessica promoted accounts hawking Canadian real-estate investments, cryptocurrency and a radio station in Ghana. The fake Jessica followed or retweeted accounts using Arabic and Indonesian, languages the real Jessica does not speak. While she was a 17-year-old high-school senior, her fake counterpart frequently promoted pornography.

All these accounts belong to customers of an obscure U.S. company named Devumi that has collected millions of dollars in a shadowy global marketplace for social-media fraud. Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. Drawing on an estimated stock of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold many times over, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers, a New York Times investigation found.

Several Devumi customers acknowledged that they bought bots because their careers had come to depend, in part, on the appearance of social-media influence. “No one will take you seriously if you don’t have a noteworthy presence,” said Jason Schenker, an economist who specializes in economic forecasting and has purchased at least 260,000 followers.

More than 100 self-described influencers — whose market value is even more directly linked to their follower counts on social media — have purchased Twitter followers from Devumi.

After reading countless articles of how social media is adding to our children’s stress, anxiety and depression, I’m beginning to think of it as more evil than good. Yes, I’ve enjoyed reuniting with friends I’ve lost touch with. Yes, I like the updates from my second cousin about her chemo treatments. Other than that, I think I might be happier without it. I used to get birthday phone calls each year and look forward to talking to my friends who bothered to call. Nowadays, I get a string of “happy birthdays” on Facebook. It’s not the same thing. I think we avoid talking and interacting in person, thanks to social media. It’s so much easier to text or PM rather than the give and take, patience and time, an actual phone call can take. I find I don’t like talking on the phone as much as I used to, and I often am the one to end the call first.

I pity the people who feel they have to have “followers” and buy friends. Especially if they feel their success depends upon it. I worry about this extra persona our children feel the need to create.

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Hanging out in our back yard with real live friends.

What are your thoughts about buying followers on social media?

What is a “quarter-life crisis” and are our kids headed for one?

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As a parent with two kids in the millennial age group, I was struck by the term “quarter-life crisis.” There is definitely a transition period after college graduation and trying to figure out the next phase of their lives. My daughter is a senior in college and she’s unsure what comes next. My son spent six-months after college graduation trying out a few different jobs before landing one that he thinks he’s sticking with for “a year or two.” Then it’s back to graduate school?

In an article I read on CNBC, Linda Ha describes the uncertainty of graduating from college and facing the question—“what’s next?”

“Millennials face life after college, finding a ‘quarter-life crisis’ instead of dream jobs

“Some freshly minted graduates feel sad, helpless and isolated because of constant change and too many choices.

“The idea of a ‘quarter-life crisis’ has led some millennials to struggle in their search for post-graduate meaning.

” ‘I consistently tried to avoid people, and I would ignore messages on my phone,’ one grad tells CNBC.

“Raphael Natividad is guilty of something most millennials don’t usually do: ignoring his phone.

“Natividad, who recently graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a degree in heath policy, has a legitimate reason, one that speaks to an existential crisis that has befallen a growing number recent graduates.

” ‘I was ashamed that I didn’t have a full-time job right after college, and that shame made me hesitant to spend time with underclassmen or with peers who I thought had brighter futures,’ Natividad told CNBC in a recent interview.

” ‘I consistently tried to avoid people, and I would ignore messages on my phone or on group chats to avoid any conversation about the future.’

“Although not an official designation by the American Psychiatric Association, a few therapists are using the term ‘post-graduation depression.’ According to mental health professionals — and recent graduates feeling its effects — the condition is characterized by a period of severe sadness, loss of motivation, helplessness and isolation due to constant change and an overabundance of choices.”

The article always references how social media is causing this age group to have more anxiety and depression. Everyone is portraying their life on social media as fantastic, amazing and that they are on track to success. In reality that makes some people feel withdrawn and less accomplished. The reality is that everyone is pretty much in the same boat. And yes, the transition from having a structured life with the focus on education and being supervised by parents to living alone and making their own decisions and choices is a tough one. We can make it better as parents by giving our kids more freedom to make choices when they’re younger.

Are your kids headed for a “quarter-life crisis?” Did you go through a rough transition from college life to adulthood, too?

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My millennials.

Do you know what apps are on your teen’s phone?

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You can’t use social media underwater–yet.

Most parents want to know what our kids are doing on social media. We’ve been aware of the dangers out there—from sexual predators to cyberbullying. Our kids who spend too much time on their phones are more prone to anxiety and depression. Suicide has doubled for girls from 2007 to 2015 reaching a 40-year high, according to new analysis from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

A decade ago our kids were on MySpace. Then they moved to Facebook. They’re on Instagram and Snapchat now, but are we? The problem I see with social media is that as soon as we figure out how to use a platform, our kids have jumped onto a new one.

In the article called “Got teens? Four popular apps you need to know about” by Amy Morganroth, she details four apps I’ve never heard of. Have you?

“If you’ve got tweens or teens who are on phones or iPads or similar devices, you need to stay vigilant about the latest “hot” apps.

“Many are targeted at kids under the age of 18 and are wildly popular because they are free and easy to use.

“But most also have pretty frightening features that could put your kids at risk if they connect with the wrong person.

“On the flip side, we also highlight one app that’s designed to help parents make sure their child responds to their text messages.”

The apps she mentions are Yellow, musical.ly and Sarahah that can be platforms for cyberbullying or meeting up with strangers. Yellow is called “Tinder” for kids. It’s a meet-up app and there are no controls on it. The app musical.ly allows users to create music videos with their friends. That may sound harmless but one dad reported that his seven-year-old daughter was asked to post topless photos of herself. Sahara is a messaging app and the problem is it’s all anonymous, hence the cyberbullying. The app ‘Reply ASAP’ allows parents to remotely lock their kids’ phones if they don’t respond to their text within three minutes. I’d like that one. I hate it when my kids don’t respond to my texts.

I haven’t found the answer to the dangers of social media for our kids mental and physical health. My only suggestion is to get your kids into an environment where they have to put their phones down. Like in the swimming pool, a hike in the mountains–or a day at the beach.

Are you fluent in knowing what apps are on your kid’s phones? How do you monitor their social media?

 

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Another place there’s no social media because our cell phones have zero bars.

 

How many parents know about “roasting” a cyberbullying trend?

 

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The pool is a good place to get away from cellphones.

 

My daughter told me they had a meeting at her college about their social media use. I’m thrilled to hear that they are on top of it and take it seriously. The students were told that someone is monitoring their social media accounts. The student-athletes were given specific examples of what had been seen and what the consequences were including loss of scholarships or being kicked off the team. Every day I hear about new problems with social media like depression and anxiety as a result of too much screen time–and today I heard about “roasting” a trend in cyberbullying.

On ABC’s Good Morning America, there was a feature called “What parents should know about roasting, a new cyberbullying trend”

Experts are warning parents to be aware of a recent rise in the social media trend of “roasting,” which many critics consider a harmful form of cyberbullying.

The trend involves people asking to be insulted by posting photos or videos of themselves on platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Reddit, usually with the hashtag #roastme. Then friends or strangers online will take turns insulting the person who posted the original video or photo. Sometimes the insults are lighthearted or humorous, but the comments can also very quickly turn alarmingly mean.

ABC News’ T.J. Holmes sat down with middle school students — who asked not to be identified by their full names — to understand more about the online trend that has left some parents baffled.

“Adults don’t really say it … it’s like a kid thing,” one teenager told ABC News of “roasting.”

Another teen explained to Holmes that roasting is about a “50-50” split of good-natured fun and being mean to another person.

The middle schoolers told Holmes that while they do not participate in the trend themselves, they have seen it affect the lives of those around them, saying that some other children from their school were compared to animals online when they were roasted.

“Some people took it as a joke, and then others were actually crying about it,” one student told Holmes.

Cyberbullying is something parents of tweens and teens need to be aware of. On the ABC report, an expert said parents need to have their children’s passwords and see what is going on. We need to know if our kids are being bullied–and also if they are the bully. In another article, it says that half of teens and young adults between 12 and 20 years old have been bullied. That means one out of every two kids experiences bullying. We need to let them know that it’s not acceptable and this is a place where I believe a parent needs to get involved and interfere.

CYBERBULLYING HAPPENS MORE OFTEN ON INSTAGRAM, A NEW SURVEY SUGGESTS
By Hillary Grigonis — Updated July 22, 2017

A new study suggests that half of teens and young adults between ages 12 and 20 have been bullied and 17 percent experience bullying online. The cyberbullying statistics come from Ditch the Label, one of the largest anti-bullying organizations in the world, and a study of more than 10,000 youths in the U.K.

According to the survey, more youths experienced cyberbullying on Instagram than any other platform at 42 percent, with Facebook following close behind at 37 percent. Snapchat ranked third at 31 percent. While the survey participants use YouTube more than any other platform, the video-focused social media was only responsible for 10 percent of the reported cyber bullying.

Seventy-one percent of the survey participants said that social media platforms do not do enough to prevent cyberbullying.

The survey also considered the other side of the story, asking the same age group how often they were the bullies, instead of being on the receiving end. Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed said they were abusive online toward another user, compared to just 12 percent that admitted to bullying in general. Despite the prevalence of youth initiating the bullying, more than 60 percent disagreed with the idea that “saying something nasty” is less hurtful online than in person.

“Cyberbullying continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing young people online,” Ditch the Label CEO Liam Hackett wrote about the cyberbullying statistics. “This research uncovers the true extent and impact of online abuse, finding that the majority of young people have at some point done something that could be considered as abusive online behavior.”

Has your child been the victim of cyberbullying? How did you handle it?

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Do your kids “like” Facebook or Snapchat more?

 

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My daughter’s pug has his own social media site.

We parents relentlessly post pics of our kids on Facebook and Instagram. We post pictures of our food. And yes, our dogs and cats. Do you take a look at your kids FB pages? I’ve noticed they are rarely used in my family. Kids are “snapchatting away,” something I have no clue about. I notice my daughter looking at her phone, typing hectically away and then laughing. I ask her what she’s doing. “Shapchat,” is invariably the answer. It’s a group thing, friend thing, a thing she does every day. Facebook is used to memorialize the big events in her life while Snapchat is a tool to communicate daily.

In the article “Facebook may have a grown-up problem: Young people leaving for Instagram and Snapchat” writer Jessica Guynn spells out the numbers:

 

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook will see a decline among teenagers in the U.S. this year, says market research firm eMarketer.

EMarketer predicts 14.5 million people ages 12 to 17 will use Facebook in 2017, a decline of 3.4% from the previous year, as they migrate to Snap’s Snapchat and Facebook’s Instagram.

Monthly Facebook usage among those under 12 and ages 18 to 24 will grow more slowly than previously forecast, too, according to eMarketer.

The forecast suggests young people are turning away from the world’s most populous social network, which reached 2 billion users this year.

You may wonder what the big deal is about kids not using Facebook as their main source of so dial media. It means advertisers aren’t getting the clicks they want, nor will they in the future. Kids who are growing up preferring other social media aren’t all of a sudden going to become FB junkies when they’re adults.

The article continues:

“What’s more: There are now “Facebook nevers,” children becoming tweens who are skipping Facebook altogether.

Snapchat usage is expected to increase this year, with the U.S. user base to grow 5.8% to 79.2 million monthly. EMarketer increased growth projections for all age groups except the oldest, with the biggest jump in young adults, ages 18 to 24 increasing nearly 20%.

Similarly, monthly Instagram usage in the U.S. will grow 23.8% in 2017 to 85.5 million. Within that figure, Instagram will expand its user base among those under 12 years old by 19% and those ages 12 to 17 by 8.8%.

 

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I post pictures from my morning walks on Insta and FB.

In a contrary article called “Are Young People Leaving Facebook: Not Even Close” you’ll read the opposite. This was written by Kurt Wagner and is dated March 30, 2016:

 

“There has been a general perception over the past few years that millennials are abandoning Facebook in search of greener, less parent-friendly pastures like Snapchat and Instagram.

Not. Even. Close.

A new comScore report released Wednesday highlights data on a whole range of Internet trends. Included in the report was this chart, which shows the percentage of 18- to 34-year-old Internet users who frequent each major social network each month. It also shows how much time those users spend with each service.”

What do you see with your own kids? Do they use Facebook as much as Instagram or Snapchat? What other types of social media do they use? Do you check on what they post?

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I also post pictures on FB of my kids and pets.

 

5 Tips for Parents to Get Their Kids to Put Their Phones Down

 

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One thing about swimming: your kids can’t swim and text.

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:

ONE
“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.

TWO
“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.”

THREE
“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?’

FOUR
“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.

FIVE
“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?

 

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I had a pink phone like this in my bedroom and talked to my friends for hours.