I have a love/hate relationship with social media. As a blogger it’s a necessary, and sometimes enjoyable, evil. As a mom…well, I’m undecided. And let me tell you why…
But before I do, have you ever asked your child this question:
Why do you use social media?
The key is asking without a hint of what you might be thinking. I have one daughter who was forced into all forms of social media because she has to participate in publicizing a group she’s in. My other two eventually joined the fray and take great pleasure in embarrassing their sisters. My husband? It might as well be the river to hell. He stays off of any form of social media unless he’s checking in on what our kids are doing.
As I watch all forms of social media hit my phone on a daily basis, I’m left to wonder about motivation. It might be as simple as “it’s fun.” It might be a quest to show others how popular you are or how perfect your life is. It might be a form of networking. I was curious so I did a little informal “man on the street” poll.
I applaud the 20ish people I spoke with, for their honesty and candor. Here are some of the answers I got:
I want people to see that I have a life.
I love when I post a selfie and everyone comments on how pretty I am.
I get bored so I post a picture to get comments.
Sometimes I do it to make someone feel left out.
I wonder what people think of my life when they look at my Insta.
I have no idea…but everyone does it, so I do it to.
I hate it.
I’m nosy so I stalk everyone.
Then I asked how it made them feel when they see their friends together and they aren’t included. The general consensus was it makes them feel bad. But then the majority admitted they have posted pictures and snapchats with the sole purpose of showing someone else who they were with, and trying to make that other person feel left out.
I acknowledge this was a very unscientific, and very limited sample set, however, after chatting with my own kids I think it’s pretty accurate.
So what to do to keep your kids from finding their self esteem in comments like “you’re perf,” or “you are goals,” or basing their popularity on the number of likes and favorites they receive? And what to do about developing sensitivity in regards to the public exclusion of other kids?
I don’t have answers.
But I will tell you that all of this prompted a great conversation with my three girls about their use of social media. We are admittedly conservative so our rules probably won’t apply to a lot of families, but here’s what we discussed.
DO NOT ever post a picture of yourself posed seductively in anything. Especially bikinis. I asked them to try and stay away from swimsuit shots altogether, but I get that they spend a good portion of their time in the pool and ocean, so as long as it’s more on the fun side and not a shot begging for attention or comments, we’re good.
Please refrain from profanity and innuendoes or anything you wouldn’t want your youth pastor or grandmother seeing.
Please be sensitive. Remember all those times you wondered why you didn’t get invited? Don’t do that to someone else.
Your self-esteem should, in NO WAY, be based on your number of followers or the number of likes you get on a picture.
No one is perfect. Even if 200 people comment that you are, you’re not! In fact, all those selfies and butt shots are begging for attention, which should tell you immediately that there might be some insecurity or need for attention going on. Don’t be that girl.
Snapchats don’t disappear. They had to go through a server somewhere; therefore there is a digital record. ‘Nuff said. (I’m not a giant fan of snapchat but we decided to let the girls have accounts. I also have an account and all passwords.)
No nudes ever! (At this point they all looked appropriately appalled and swore to NEVER. But it had to be said and it will be monitored.)
Ultimately I want my girls to be wise, caring, sensitive, and confident. I don’t want their value to be tied up in anything social media related, so I will keep working to refine them and help them develop into who they really are in the 3D world.
If you have any tips or ideas on how to instill sensitivity, and how to protect them when others aren’t….or any social media rules you have in your family, I’d love to hear them!