Parenting Discussion: Social Media and Teens

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Friends! I’ve been itching to share another parenting discussion post, I’m so grateful a good handful of you replied to my survey with ideas for future topics, so I’m going to jump right into one of those. It’s all about Social Media and Kids, when they can get on, and what are the rules. I’m very heavily connected into social media with my blog, so this is something that I’ve thought a lot about, and take a lot into consideration. Social media…we love it and hate, it, right?

Join the Parenting discussion when to let kids on social media and how to monitor them

Why do we love it?

  • Stay connected to friends and family far away
  • See what local friends kids are up to
  • Learn about fun spots to travel/visit
  • Live vicariously
  • Birthday reminders of loved ones
  • Meet new people that our friends/family love
  • Inspiration to make a new recipe/craft/home project
  • Share a milestone or fun family activity
  • Connection
  • mind numbing when we want to forget reality

Why do we hate it?

MY LATEST VIDEOS
  • Jealousy
  • Time suck
  • Hurt feelings
  • Guilt for not doing something
  • Unrealistic perception of reality
  • avoid family to view it

I know all that exists, I feel it all from time to time, myself. I feel like I’ve been blessed with a fairly healthy does of “I can appreciate that without feeling like I need it” syndrome, but I get that not everyone has that. Because…sometimes that envy DOES creep in, and oh how I hate it. It’s hard for me to take social media breaks because it’s so crucial to my business, but I’ve still done it. Put the instagram app at the end of my phone apps, sworn not to open it for a few days.

So if it’s a struggle for me sometimes, of course it’s a struggle for our kids. Us adults did not have to grow up with it.

I’ve taken the approach similar to how I feel about the birds and the bee’s:

THE EARLIER YOU TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT IT, THE BETTER.

By starting an open, relaxed dialogue about it early on, you are giving them to tools they need to help them when they get older and are faced with all of those negatives that may come along.

Since I run a business through my social media, my following #’s are higher than the average person. My kids see them though, and they are like, “Mom, you are FAMOUS!” And I quickly assure them that it’s all part of the business, and guess what? I’ve got lots of blogging friends who have double or triple the followers I have (and of course I try not to let that bother me) and that it’s part of a business. I don’t want them to put too much stock into it, and I tell them the reality that I have a lot, but others still have more, and yes it is hard to see sometimes, but I don’t want to think about that numbers game.

The followers, the likes, the comments, it’s hard not to compare with what you see is happening with others, and I’m trying to train them early that is not where we carry our self worth.

I didn’t quite realize that Facebook and Instagram had an age requirement of 13.  My 10.5 year old has had an account for a few years, and I quickly realized that, such is the nature of the girl, it affects her more emotionally than it does my boys. My boys hardly ever post anything, and generally use Instagram to look through sports clips or humor feeds. I’ve checked them all out, and they are clean, but every once in a while I’ll see one, and we will talk about why it could have been different, and maybe they could unfollow that page to avoid that in the future. They only tend to look once a week.

With my daughter, when I realized she was actually too young for it, I said that she should not use it to post until she is 13, and now she just looks through her feed. It’s mostly hair and DIY tutorials and modest clothing feeds and inspirational quote feeds. She got that, and didn’t push back. She did one time come to me, and tell me that her feelings were hurt when she saw someone who was a friend post a picture of her and another friend at a water park for her birthday. It made her feel bad that she wasn’t invited because she had invited her to her birthday. We talked through all of that. I pointed out that she only had one friend (not a party of a bunch of people), and even told her that my feelings also get hurt when I see friends post pictures with other friends, realizing that I wasn’t invited to something, too.

Having those open discussions, letting them know that it’s normal and that we struggle with it, too, I think is really helpful. It normalized and validates those feelings, and it’s something that is going to come up with them over and over on social media, so it needs to be dealt with and discussed.

If I could go back, I would have a sit down and chat with them before giving them access to a social media account, but also the importance of have that conversation regularly, which I aim to do now.

We have a rule in our family that we can take their devices at an moment and look through it, so I will occasionally scroll through their feeds…sometimes with them, and it brings up a great dialogue as we view together and discuss what’s out there.

I actually had a friend calling me recently because she said, “you are my social media guru.” Her 15 year old son really wanted to get on snap chat because all of his friends were there, and she wanted my opinion as to whether or not they should allow it, because they had heard so many negative things about it. Fortunately, I had JUST started using it more regularly, and I caught the vision as to why the teenagers like it so much (for a while, I just didn’t get it, didn’t like it).

I told her…yes, it COULD be used for teens snapping inappropriate selfie’s, but if you have a talk with him, tell him you trust him, and you trust that IF he ever see’s anything, to come to you (because if you discover it, you’ll take away that privilege in a heart beat) and let them know, and choose to unfriend that person. I believe it all comes down to trust. These kids are being exposed to so much with those phones at the tips of their fingers. But having the conversations ahead of time, and during, on a regular basis, I believe will help.

I’d love others to weigh in! What have you done in your home? What are your rules? What are you afraid of? This is a parenting DISCUSSION, so please share!

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Comments

  1. Jacqueline says:

    Love that you’re so big on communication and being right there next to your kids. I think that is so important for kids of all ages, but especially teens.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Thank you, I try! As I was writing that up though, I was thinking…I need to do this more, great idea, but I also need to be on top of implementing!

  2. Communication is everything. Mine are still too young to want their own accounts, but I let mine scroll through my (squeaky clean) instagram feed. We’re not on facebook and when they’re old enough if it’s still around (oh who am I kidding, it’s not going anywhere) we’ll explain the reasons why that is. I take frequent social media breaks. The noise just gets to me after a while. I think that’s important too, showing them how we self control and not get sucked in and try to keep up.