If you’re like most parents, you are a little concerned about your teen and social media. Let’s explore some of the concerns and trends.
Where is Social Media Heading?
First, I think it’s important to recognize that social media is not going anywhere anytime soon. Barring some huge catastrophe, social media is here to stay. Sure, something might disappear overnight like MySpace did, but I’m sure for every one that is lost ten more will spring up.
So, if you ask, “Where’s social media heading?”, my answer is, “Into the future.” Guess what, that’s exactly where our teens are headed. So, if our teens and social media are going to occupy the same future, I’d like them to be prepared. I want them to be able to be intentional about the way the use social medial, and I want them to be completely aware of all the pros and cons associated with social media.
How to Handle Social Media.
I don’t believe that their is a “one size fits all” answer for social media. The truth is that we are seeing the devastating effect of people, both adults and teens, losing balance with their lives and social media. There are studies that suggest that social media is linked to anxiety, depression, and decreased connection between parents and their kids. But, I also think it’s unrealistic to think that you and your kids can simply ignore social media.
Here are some principles that are important when it comes to handling social media as an adult and parent, and how you might teach your teen when it comes to social media.
First, be intentional when it comes to social media. Far too often we hop on social media with no intention, and next thing you know you’ve been scrolling Facebook and watching dumb cat videos for hours.
What your intentions are is less important than just being intentional. Are you getting on to unwind? Great, set a time limit and avoid confrontational political arguments that will wind you up instead of helping you unwind. Are you getting on to connect with friends? Do just that. Also, be aware of how much time you are spending on social media. Social media companies are harvesting TONS OF DATA on you. You should be gathering data too. How much time are you spending on social media, what effect is it having you your life? Are you getting things done or are you wasting too much time? Be intentional and set boundaries.
Second, make a plan for you and your family. As the parent, you have a responsibility for the overall health of your family. If you believe that social media is having a negative impact on your family, you need to address it.
I think that it is very important to have your family involved in this. Help them understand why this has come up. Help them see the benefits that you are hoping to see as you make and implement this plan. Give them a chance to voice their thoughts and concerns. They may have some valid points that you would possibly not think about.
Make your plan realistic and doable. Maybe you guys will get better and better each week. Also, make a plan for what to do when trouble arises. Maybe someone witnesses, or is victim to, something inappropriate, what do they do? Be clear about expectations when it comes to social media.
Third, re-evaluate regularly. Social media burst onto the seen over a decade ago. With no idea of the impact that it would have on our kids, we started shoving devices in our kids faces with the hopes that it would help them learn better or at least keep them quietly occupied for a little while.
Well, now we have tons of data on the effects of social media. Take some time to educate yourself. Take a good look at your life and your relationship with social media. What’s working and what’s not. Regularly evaluate this. You may find that you are spending too much time on social media or that you don’t like the way that it makes you feel.
This might change from week to week or month to month. Be willing to continually re-evaluate your plan to best meet the needs of you and your family. Be flexible enough to make it doable, but firm enough to ensure that there is a plan and some intention when it comes to social media.
Fourth and final, be open with your kids, especially your teens. What are some of the challenges that you are finding? What are the challenges that they are experiencing? What are some of the benefits of social medial. Help you’re kids and teens develop the skill of being intentional. Help them establish boundaries, and re-evaluate this regularly. Basically, you want them to develop the skill to create their own balance when it comes to social media.
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