It’s A Woman Thing: Kids, Self-Esteem, and Social Media
As the mother of three children, I often worry about how living in a world concerned with social media will affect them. When I was a teen, there was no concern about what everyone was doing, no one to “screen shot” the homework, no worry about keeping up my “streaks!” Nor, was I worried about my reputation being ruined online. I was lucky to have a “princess” phone in my bedroom and could call my friends. One of the funniest questions I ever got from my kids was: “Mom, how old were you when you got your first cell phone?” You should have seen their faces when I replied: “35!” and it was in a bag! LOL!!
We didn’t have social media, we didn’t tweet, and we certainly didn’t take videos or selfies.
I have come to accept that it is a different world, but as a parent it is imperative to stay connected. Conversations about social media are pretty routine on the way to school, or on those rare quiet moments on the couch.
I will often ask about the pictures of friends, or what certain things mean, I’ve been known to jump in during a face time meeting to say hi to their friends! They find it pretty funny…I have even “dabbed” for the camera! I think social media provides a perfect opportunity to talk about friendship, making good choices, and what matters. I tell them that their real friends are not the ones to trash-talk about them or post anything negative. I also tell them that they are responsible for the choices they make and that once they put something out there on social media, you can’t take it back. Just like if you say something hurtful to someone, once you’ve said it you can’t take it back, but you can always apologize. And, I always remind them that if someone has said something hurtful or not truthful about them, they can stand firm in their power because they know the truth.
Fortunately, my kids learned from an unfortunate event that occurred on social media. There was a large group text that went around school last year targeted towards someone they knew. The people responding were saying very hurtful things about a young girl. She did the right thing and involved her parents, who in turn involved the school. Fortunately, my kids were not responding negatively but trying to stop the hurt. That was a huge wake-up for them on the power that social media can have. My message to them was if they get involved in a group text, no matter the subject matter, GET OUT! They have since been very mindful and stay out of group text. We talk about that experience a lot.
We have conversations about appropriate vs. inappropriate posts. They will often show me things that are inappropriate that they see on Instagram and that gives us a chance to talk about it,slways, with the message that you have a choice in each and every situation. They ask my opinion and I am always honest. I do not want them to live in a fantasy, I try to keep them grounded in reality. Even with the dangers that can lurk out there for them, I do like how it does keep them connected with friends, I like how they often take pictures and document the good times they have; and it gives them a chance to share. Sometimes, a kind word from a friend in a nano-instant can make all the difference. I wish I had that back when I was a teenager…!
I do not troll their time on social media, but I do ask questions and I am present enough to ask about it. I think it is good for our relationship. Often times, now they will voluntarily show me something funny, or something sad, or even something that concerns them. These are the moments that are gifted to us. A time to connect with our children in an ever-changing techno world and have real conversation about the things that are relevant to them. As parents, I think relating to our kids in this way helps us understand the world in general. I am trying to keep up! I think I’ll take a selfie!