My husband jokingly promised my then inquisitive four year old daughter that she could get a phone on her eighth birthday. She never forgot that promise and my husband followed through with a hand me down that made her extremely happy. At first it was only used for games and pictures and had no texting or calling…innocent enough. As she grew older and was involved with more extracurricular activities, we activated a calling plan for her. She is super responsible and had to earn this privilege. All was good until more kids started getting phones and she downloaded social media sites like Snap Chat. The problem is that friends often times will send snaps of themselves together and it lets her know she was not invited. I do not think the kids are doing it mean spirited, but it often makes her feel left out. I know this is not only happening to my child, but to a majority of those who have access to social media sites. To us parents, we might say its not a big deal, but to the kids it is!!! Friends are a big deal! I have had parents tell me that it seems like all their child cares about is how many likes they get on their posts. Our kids are growing up in a much different society now and it can be extremely frightening.
Can you imagine weekend after weekend of constant reinforcement of not being included and what that can do to a child’s self esteem. Kids today have instantaneous updates on what is going on in their social circles-very different from generations of the past. The number of pre-teen and teens using social media has grown exponentially over the last 5 years. Social media sites are great because they allow kids many opportunities to express themselves and connect to others. Social media sites are not so great because they allow kids many opportunities to express themselves and connect to others. Social media can be a double edge sword. These sites are mostly for entertainment and offer very little as far as education goes. They can be highly addictive and can alter brain patterns especially in our youth whose brains are still developing. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide amongst adolescent girls reached a 40 year high in 2015. I cannot help but wonder if the rise in teen suicide rates has anything to do with technology and social media.
I know what a lot of parents are thinking, shame on you for giving your child technology so young. I have had parents say that their kid will not get a phone until they are 18. But its not going away…why try to shield them from reality? The use of technology is becoming more prevelant in our children’s lives and at a much younger age. I say Instead, lets empower them to take on this new era of living responsibly and adapt to a new way of being. I talked with my daughter about how she needs to realize that this is always going to happen as long as she participates with social media and it is only going to get worse as she gets older and more kids get phones. I told her that she mentally has to prepare herself for this. This is where a strong empowering foundation comes into play. If we build our kiddos up when they are young to love themselves, the effects of these types of occurrences will float away with the breeze. They will know their worth and will not let a picture ruin their day. We cannot let social media have a negative impact on the mental health of our children. We need to teach our kiddos to depend on themselves and not the algorithms on their phones. We need to be open and honest with them on the effects of technology and help them set responsible limits. Just like with most things, moderation is the key.
My daughter’s solution was to delete the app altogether. Although its only temporary, I think its the best solution at this time. I strongly urge parents to talk with their children about what they post and how it might affect others. If it in anyway can bring someone down, it probably does not need to be posted. My motto: “use your voice for good or don’t use it.” I will not be here to put out all my kid’s fires, but I will ALWAYS be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. I will build them up to believe that they can conquer the world…even the social media one.
Create Your Own Reality >>
Working hard at raising 4 Little OMies