October 26, 2012

My Thoughts on Teens & Social Media

I'm not a mother, but I do think often of ways I want my children to be raised, especially in this crazy world we live in. It seems scary to me- to try and successfully raise a family in a world with so many bad things around us, and my hat goes off to the mothers that I know who are doing a wonderful job of protecting their families.

In regard to this, something that I have thought about often for my future children/young teenagers, is not allowing my them to have any sort of social media. This sounds a little extreme even as I write it out, but let me tell you a few of my reasons why.

Number One. For some reason, people have the idea that they are not as responsible for the things they say on the Internet, as they are in real life. Have you seen this video of a news anchor who was bullied about her weight via the Internet? (you should watch it, her response is perfect and so brave.) Just because this bully didn't use his real name, he believed the anonymity was reason enough to be able to tell this woman that she was obese. I highly doubt that if he saw or knew her in real life, he would think it was appropriate to say something like that.

I have seen this type of thing way too many times. When I had a Twitter account, I realized that a lot of the things people were saying were things they wouldn't say out loud. A lot of the tweets were extremely rude, and I even noticed myself making a few sarcastic and snarky tweets because that's just the general atmosphere of Twitter. Basically Twitter is a place where you say the first thing that comes to your mind- and when you are mad, upset, or in a bad mood, it's going to show.

On Instagram, I see pictures of celebrities (you know me, gotta keep up) with comments calling them fat or ugly, or saying they aren't talented. I couldn't believe the first few times I saw this, and then I realized it is mostly teenagers and even younger kids who are writing these comments. (A few immature and clearly pathetic adults as well.)

My point is: We are allowing kids to live in a world where cowardly and hurtful comments made because one feels anonymous is ok, and as seen in the video I mentioned above, some adults believe that too. Bullying should not be tolerated in any circumstance, including over the Internet and the tolerance of this, as well as the belief that one isn't responsible for the things he/she says, is not something I want my kids exposed to. 

Number Two. I think it is easy for kids and teens to confuse their self-worth with how many followers, likes, comments and retweets they get. I realize that getting feedback from others is part of the fun of social media, and there's nothing wrong with that. The problem comes when people cross the line from these reinforcements being fun, to obsessing over them. I see so many people that comment on Instagram pictures saying things like "10 likes for 10 likes." Frankly, this is pathetic to me, and again, I have found that it is mostly teenagers. I just don't understand where the fulfillment comes from.

During a time that is so crucial to the development of self-worth, I don't think that it's healthy for a young person to be so reliant on social media for validity. Their concept of self worth should be coming from things with a lot more depth than the amount of likes they get on a picture. 

Number Three. Pornography and other harmful messages and pictures are everywhere. There is no avoiding it, no matter where you go, but it is especially present in social media. When I first got my Twitter account, I had about 10 new "followers" within the first few days who were fake accounts of basically naked women who had a link on their profile to some pornographic/adult website.

You can block these people, but not until after the fact when they have already exposed themselves to your son or daughter. I am especially anti-Twitter for this reason. I would say it is the worst of these social media sites, because at any time, one of these fake profiles can follow any person. No one is exempt from this and there's no way to avoid this if you have a twitter account, which is absolutely crazy to me.

Number Four. The distortion of body image. I have talked about this one a little bit before, but it is something that really hits home for me. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail, but there was a point in my life where I was obsessed with, and thought about my body image literally over 100 times a day. Not exaggerating.

With that being said, women are being bombarded by media images of what they "should" look like, and now young girls are being exposed to it all as well.  It is poisonous, and while that may seem like a strong word, I truly believe it. It is everywhere and I don't think there is a single person who can say these images don't effect their way of thinking.

There is clearly no way to avoid it, but in my mind, lessening the problem seems to make a lot more sense than allowing young girls to be exposed to it even more than they already are. 

This is not a bash on any parents, nor am I trying to preach or force my ideas on anyone. These are simply my thoughts written out, as someone who regularly uses social media and sees all the negative things it can encompass- so I hope I haven't offended anyone. I also realize that we can't shelter our kids from every little thing, and that my opinion may change by the time I have kids (in 60 years ;) If you have an opinion on this subject, I really would love to hear it.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.
xoxo

3 comments:

  1. Every post I read of yours just makes me more amazed. I agree with this post and you said everything so well. Kids are exposed to so many awful things at such a young age that I would love to protect their childhood for as long as I can. We lived without social media when we were young, they can too.

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    1. That is really sweet of you to say. Thank you Linsie!

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  2. I love the maturity that comes from you!! As someone who "older," I sure have a lot to learn from you!!

    I have a Twitter account and several occasion have announced I was deleting it but my followers have begged me to stay on. So, I have but it annoys me on what I see. Even so, I want to join in and present my sarcastic self but it doesn't present my whole and best self. I'm not in the mood nor have the time to prove myself to anyone but I feel their is a point you have use social media responsibly. Now I try to use it for work purposes.. (whatever that may be for me).

    I grew up in the ghetto and on the streets. It was so important to "keep it real" and its hard to do so if you think your measure is based on the amount of followers / likes one has. Oh geez, I can talk forever on this. I truly believe social media can do lots and lots of good (especially the Lords work), their is just a time and place.

    Don't even get me started on the porn.

    Keep your the direction you're going and your kids will turn out just fine!!! They need strong mothers like you to be aware and guarded. Love this post my fellow Viet sistah girl! lol I mean it though!! xoxo

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