Ah the wonders of technology. When the clocked ticked over to the new
Millennium I had a cell phone and a computer but never would I have guessed that we would have access to phones that could get on the internet, tell us where we are on earth at any given moment, and let us play games to our hearts content. When I got my first smartphone -a blackberry- I was in love. A techie at heart I was enamored with the things these phones could do. And then we got tablets. I was falling all over myself happy!
Then came a little website called Facebook. I wasn’t sure what it was at first. I had seen highschool.com and also knew of MySpace I figured it was much like those sites and neither of these held my interest so I didn’t take much interest in Facebook at first. At the time I lived in a neighborhood and as other moms began signing up I decided to give it a try. Very quickly I was hooked. As the years have progressed I’ve developed a like/dislike relationship with social media.
In the infancy of social media my kids were too young to be on it. As more social media sites have been born and have blossomed so have my kids. Now I have teens and two use various forms of social media. Many kids flock to social media where they can quickly post a picture or snappy comment and then troll for likes from their friends. What if they don’t get enough likes? Will they be upset? What if someone stalks them or bullies them? It happens- as we know- and I’ve seen it firsthand. It’s exhausting as a parent to try and keep up with protecting our kids. Chatter is everywhere. Pictures fly back and forth like little cyber birds. It’s mind boggling. How do they keep track of it all? Why are they so brazen with things they post? I don’t even think the answer is that complicated. They have never lived in a world without social media.
It seems the norm these days is to “talk” with friends over text or on social media and I think this isn’t teaching our kids how to deal with things face to face. My daughter told me that one of her friends was upset with someone at school and I asked her if her friend was going to talk to her friend. “She will text her I guess”. She said. These are people who see each other in school every day. Why not sit down for a chat at lunch? I suppose it is easier to deal with an issue sometimes if we can just type our words and not actually have to look at a person in the eyes. But that is not teaching our kids true communication. We know it’s easy to type something and hit send before we consider our words. It’s easy because you don’t have to face the person you are communicating with.
I feel kind of sorry for our teens today. They aren’t learning certain social skills because social media is their virtual social life. That world has much different “rules of etiquette” than the real world. You can be hurt because your friend blocks you from her account without telling you why, people can share your pictures, your private texts, and say unkind things at the touch of a button. Our kids can get hurt. We want to protect our kids from being hurt by others and from hurting themselves. I feel like I am running a race and sometimes I am a step ahead of my kid but lots of times I feel a step behind.
This is where my relationship with social media turns to dislike. The very thing I love -technology- has become a menace to me because I have children and it is another place where I need to try to protect them. I have seen the good and the bad of social media and as an adult I hope that I am mature enough to filter out the bad things, not get caught up in nasty conversations and I know I am not sending out questionable pictures of myself. But our kids are just learning…they don’t have the skills yet to always make the right choices. Hah many adults don’t either!
I know I have choices. I could choose not to allow my kids to have access to social media. I even have one teen that is not on it yet. He is not ready and thankfully is not interested. But I take the approach that when I think they are ready I will allow them to signup for one account on some form of social media. I know their user names and passwords and I tell them I have the right to check up on them and if there is a big issue I will remove their account. As they use their account wisely I allow them to get other accounts on social media…which means I have an account too!
I want my kids to learn how to use social media appropriately. I want them to see what is good about it and what is bad. I don’t think it is going away anytime soon. They are going to get hurt sometimes and sometimes they will make bad choices- it comes with being a teen – no parent is going to be able to stop it no matter how hard we try. But darn it I am going to try…darn social media! Bah humbug to technology!…nah just kidding – nothing can take the love of technology out of me…not even my teens!
Thanks for reading…(Part 2 – why I love social media – coming soon)
Some info on social media for parents (written by teens):