Do you ever find yourself wondering what’s so “social” about social media?
The “simple definition” of the word social as defined by Merriam-Webster is as follows:
-relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other
-liking to be with and talk to people
– happy to be with people of or relating to people or society in general
Is “social” media, actually limiting or inhibiting your child’s ability to experience this?
Do you ever feel concerned that kids growing up in the social media/texting generation will have difficulty effectively communicating with or relating to one another?
Has your child ever had a friend over, or in your car, and while sitting right next to each other each of them is texting or snap chatting others? Are they looking at their IG, Facebook etc…completely unaware of the fact that there is anyone else around them?
Is social media making tweens, teens, adolescents and even many adults so tuned out that they are becoming oblivious to the presence and/or feelings of others?
Should parent’s be concerned about the ramifications of such significantly reduced intimate human contact and companionship?
What might the consequences of constantly communicating though a device rather than while looking at another be?
Will significantly diminished face to face social interactions with peers inhibit the development of such integral characteristics as sympathy, empathy, compassion and understanding?
How could this large decrease in in- person dialog impact one’s sense of responsible for the feelings and well being of others?
Will children growing up in a device center world have less of an ability to be caring and compassionate, or even excited or surprised? Will they suffer from a reduced EQ (emotional quotient)?
Imagine being 17 and dating that special someone all of Junior year only to be shockingly broken up with out of the blue via text message. Or even finding out from your best friend that your boyfriend apparently broke up with you as he recently changed his Facebook status to “single” and every one of the 400 photo’s of you that used to adorn his wall have now evaporated.
Most parents today can fully understand the value of more immediate communication in a busy world. We value the opportunity to keep up with others near and far which otherwise might prove to be a very difficult undertaking. We are grateful for the greatly increased ease of communication as we are quite often “on the fly”. Many of us also greatly enjoy having the ability to share our lives, what our children look like and what we are doing with those same people we might not otherwise have the opportunity to keep in the loop. We too can be captivated, taken away into a world where we become unaware of others around us. We can even lose sight of the needs of very children we are so concerned about. We sadly can become somewhat disconnected from their desire to interact and connect with us while having our undivided attention due to a device in our hand. The majority of us can relate to being seduced by all these distractions and losing sight of what all, especially growing human beings truly thrive on, close human contact, connection and intimacy. None of which can ever be fully achieved while looking into a device.
Clearly, social media, “abstract” communicating and the like are not going anywhere. Nor do they need to be viewed as “the enemy”. That said, children are becoming owners of smart phones and other communication devices younger and younger all the time. As with in many other arena’s, we as parents need to remain vigilant to the need for age appropriate monitoring, supervision, guidance and limit setting when it comes to the use of devices and social media in our children’s lives. We must continually make an effort to reinforce the importance of actually “being there” while validating the need for real social experiences and the importance of human bonding and connection. While the use of social media and devises can potentially aid in enriching and enhancing a child’s life in a variety of circumstances, where the trouble lies in when they become the primary tool for communicating, interacting, sharing feeling, relating and interpreting their world. When a child interpretation of what is happening in the lives of others based on what they are viewing on social media is compared to what they themselves are experiencing, it can lead to feelings of insecurity, isolation, low self confidence and low self esteem. This real of perceived notion of being or having “less than” can potentially increase the risk of socially avoidant behavior, anxiety and depression.
As with most things in life, the key is balance. We need not banish social media and the like from our children’s lives. In fact we can even join with them in embracing the many positives they have to offer. Our role as parents is to create and reinforce a healthy and appropriate synergy. As long as we are vigilant in finding and fostering that much needed “happy medium” and we continually reinforce the importance of human contact, intimacy and connection, the likelihood of raising socially competent and successful human beings is probably pretty strong.