“The worst thing is to look like you don’t have anything to do—it looks like you’re not important.”
—14-year-old girl talking about her phone
Physical Effects with Every Buzz
Unlimited access to social media hinders the ability to form deep relationships. TRUST doesn’t form over social media platforms but rather over time and in person.
Social Media Warning Signs
Social media is great if it was intended to be used the way it was created. It is hard to believe that creators of some of the most popular apps created them with the intentions of its users to tear people down, tie their own self-worth to them, bully one another and get addicted to them. It is an avenue for its users to share partial truths and not paint a full picture and the hard part is to separate truth from reality. Think about your child, if you can identify with any of the statements below you may need to get more involved in their social media world:
Does Your Teenager…
How Teens Use Social Media
There are teenagers that utilize Social Media correctly. A healthy relationship with social media is one where a teen does the following:
Rarely has an active presence on their feeds
Posts few photos and makes few comments
He or she can do homework and other activities without checking in on social media
They are very active with different friend groups and have face-to-face connections
Maintains strong personal relationships with family members
Rarely gossip and is aware of the drama that is associated with social media
Doesn’t feel pressure to fit in
Unfortunately, we are aware that this is not the case for most teenagers. Being on screens is a full-time job for teenagers and it becomes another full-time job for the parents who are involved in the online presence of their teenager.
The Dark Side of Social Media
“I never met a predator whom the child DID NOT LOVE!”
—FBI Agent, Charlotte, NC
82% of online sex crimes against minors started when the perpetrator used the victim’s social networking site to gain information and introduction.
“Sexting” is the practice of using a data phone or social media to distribute nude and/or explicit photos of oneself to another person or groups of people. Teens today think that sexting is a normal activity because it is so common.
Dangers of Sexting
Teenage relationships and even friendships do not always last forever. Once those ties are cut the teen who sent photos of themselves to someone no longer has control over that photo. The person who received that photo can be redistributed without the knowledge or consent of the person who sent it.
In many states, It is illegal to possess or transfer child pornography even if the picture is of oneself and the image is on your personal phone. To restate: You could be charged and added to a state’s sex offender registry for having sexually based pictures of yourself or others on your phone, that are not of legal age.
Sexting is detrimental to your child’s physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological health. Teenagers have committed suicide over sexting images.
Social Media Solutions
Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest!
- Delay access. The longer parents delay the social media world, the more time a child has to mature. Delaying also encourages personal authentic relationships to develop as opposed to shallow screen relationships.
- Follow their social media accounts. Kids don’t need social media privacy; it is not private to the rest of the world, so it should not be private to parents. Allow your kids a social media account on your phone or home computer.
- Keep a sharp eye on the clock. Reduce the amount of time your child is on social media across all platforms. The average teen spends nine hours a day on social media; instead, set one time each day for your child to check their social media.
- Plan face-to-face time for your teens and friends. They don’t need 842 friends; four to six close friends are enough for healthy social development.
- Spend more non-tech time with your children. Teens need more time with parents and family. Let them “come home” and leave the social media drama for a few hours.
- Be a proactive parent. Get educated and explore other options for social interactions and family attachment. Be aware of any behavioral changes in your child.
- Read The Boogeyman Exists and He’s in Your Child’s Back Pocket by Jesse Weinberger
- Watch CNN’s Special: Being 13: Inside the Secret World of Teens
- Watch Simon Sinek on Millenials and the Workplace (Start at 2:38)