I’m worried for my kids, I’m worried for their friends and I’m worried for us as parents. Internet safety should be a concern for everyone.
As future generations take to social media in ways we can’t even begin to understand, I’m starting to fear how it will impact my children’s lives.
It’s hard being a tween and it’s harder yet being a teen. Hormones flying about and life generally being completely unfair. But life as a teen has just got so much harder. Welcome to the biggest popularity contest generations of teenagers have ever seen.
I’m lucky. Growing up I had great friends and as I moved out of the tweenage years and into the hardcore hormonal battles of 14 and 15, I relied on them for support as they did me. That’s what friendships were. They gave us confidence, they allowed us to believe in ourselves and they supported us through heartache, hormones and general teenage strife. However as I moved into young adulthood, I quickly understood that my friends were there for me through thick and thin, but it was only me who I could count on for self-worth. If I believed in myself, I could and I would achieve.
Today however, teenagers and young adults are often living through the all-seeing eyes of social media. Innocent mistakes can go viral, self-worth is sought through how many likes a post gets and kids who don’t even know each other class themselves as friends because they mutually follow each other. What happened to meaningful relationships that are enjoyed through all stages of life? What happened to unanimous support from your closest friends? The success and failure of today’s teens is often decided by people who don’t even know them.
This isn’t healthy. Low self-esteem will be a burden they have to bear their entire life and if all they have to compare themselves to is the picture-perfect world of everyone else’s social media accounts, they will be forever chasing a non-existent dream.
As parents, we need to show them that there’s more to life than Facebook likes or Instagram follows. We owe it to them to teach them about internet safety. We think that because we’re adults, we can handle the highs and lows of social media better than them. But this isn’t true. Study after study shows the negative impact of social media on adults.
Let’s show our kids we can all enjoy things without feeling the need to gain everyone’s approval. That we can put our phones down for a minute and actually listen to what they’re telling us. It’s up to us to show them there’s more to life than someone else’s picture-perfect existence. However, we can’t teach them anything if we aren’t practicing what we preach.
Put down your device
Put down your phone, forget about capturing every ‘perfect’ moment for your feed and enjoy the time. Capture memories for yourself, not your followers. Leave them be and let them learn, grow, develop in private. You don’t need to capture every bruise, heartache, success, failure for your own Facebook page.
Teach them about internet safety, privacy settings, online predators, the risk of sending risqué photos, cyberbullying and everything else that goes with living our life out like we’re part of the Truman Show. Through your own actions, show them how to be confident. Teach them that they are the only ones who can build up their self-worth. Believe in yourself and remember – if they believe in themselves, they will fly.