Posted by kirstyes
Guest Post – Social Media Safety
by Kim McCabe, author of From Daughter to Woman, parenting girls safely through their teens
My daughter’s phone died. I braced myself for her panic at being disconnected. It didn’t come, she quite liked having a social media ‘holiday’… for a few weeks. Then she needed to get back in the loop, she was missing conversations, photos, gatherings. But after not having a phone for a while, she was a bit more aware of how easy it was to lose time on it and how it didn’t always make her feel too brilliant.
Teen depression. We all like to blame social media. We’re a bit afraid of it when we see the hold it has over our kids. We’re right to be cautious, it’s definitely having an impact on teen mental health. We don’t want our girls to be basing their opinion of themselves on how many ‘likes’ they can earn. Or ending up exhausted before the day has begun because they were messaging until 2am. Or doing things for the boys because that’s what they’ve all seen online.
Our children are growing up in a world that’s populated by digital delights that we never knew. We’re going to have to learn about how they work before we can teach our kids how to stay healthy in this new culture. This is nothing new, parents have always struggled with whatever’s the latest craze. Kids love it and we tend to see the downsides of it.
If you want to be able to influence your child’s social media habits you can’t be completely down on it. Think about it from your child’s point of view: if you don’t have control over your home, own a car, or have much money and here is a device which puts you in touch with your friends and a world that you don’t have easy access to any other way. What’s not to like?
Here’s the way forward:
• Ask her to teach you about the platforms that she likes.
• Sign up to some yourself so that you can see what’s going on.
• Find out what you need to teach her to stay safe (like turning off location functions, not giving personal details and not meeting people you’ve encountered online; there’s more, find out).
• Ask her what she sees online that bothers her and discuss it without being judgmental or she’ll clam up.
• Find out what happens to everything digital, so you can explain it to her.
• Give her the 1-second-check idea, suggesting she pause before pushing send to ask herself what would my granny or boss think of this?
• Show her videos of how photoshop changes what we’re shown.
• Reassure her that it’s normal to be curious but if ever she sees or hears anything she wishes she hadn’t, she can come to you, no blame.
• Have a night-time parking place downstairs for phones. No phones at bedtime; buy an alarm clock.
• Suggest a ‘mood check’ after time spent with social media so she’s aware of when it’s doing her good and when it’s not. Encourage her to notice what feels positive (the connection, the fun) and what doesn’t (comparing, mean comments).
• Set a good example yourself.
Our duty as parents is to take care of our children and gradually to hand that job over to them. So, when she’s little you install software safeguards and set rules. As she gets older, the safety filters are going to have to come from inside her, so your job turns into how to help her do that. First. She’s going to need to understand why she’d want to. Then, you’ll need to guide her how to use social media safely.
If you think she’s running into difficulties, you need to show that you’re on her side. If she’s not having a nice time online, chances are she’ll feel like it’s her fault and shame will make it harder for her to tell you. If she seems to be relying on ‘likes’ to feel good, and then feels low after the high, help her to notice that. If you think she’s got a bit hooked and you judge her, she’ll just get defensive. Telling anyone of any age that they’re addicted to something is the last way to get them to stop. Never make her wrong. If you want to get through to her, the two of you have to be able to talk to each other without accusing or criticizing. If you want an easy way to get these conversations going, go on a Mother-Daughter Date once a month.
It’s the way to get real-life ‘likes’ from her!
Wow. What a great post. Thanks Kim. Some useful pointers for social media using adults here too!
This book aims to make the adolescent’s journey just that bit safer, kinder, and better supported – so parents and teens can enjoy the teenage years more.
The teen years are tough – for teens and for parents. Many parents dread the moodiness, dishonesty, preference of friends over family, exam stress, and the push for greater independence. Mothers have a pivotal role to play; this is a guidebook for parents and mothers of girls in particular as they navigate the rocky teenage landscape with their daughters aged 8 to 18. It aims to help them embrace the potential of their child’s teenage years by marking this time of growing maturity for girls and celebrating it with them. We celebrate birth, marriage and death, but this important life-transition from child to young adult is nowadays rarely acknowledged within an appropriate community.
Kim McCabe is the founder of Rites for Girls. As the originator and facilitator of Girls Journeying Together groups, she offers guidance to preteen and teen girls and simultaneous support for their mothers. In training other women to facilitate these groups, her dream is that every girl grows up expecting to be supported and celebrated in adolescence. Kim was commissioned to write a section in Steve Biddulph’s latest best-selling book, 10 Things Girls Need Most: To Grow Up Strong and Free.
Kim is a home-educating mother of two boys, one girl, two cats and a colony of aloe vera plants; she is wife to a Kiwi, daughter to itinerant parents, friend to a cherished few, and lover of time alone, too. She lives in the Ashdown Forest in Sussex. She sometimes shouts at her children, accidentally steps on the cat’s tail and forgets to water the plants, but she loves her work, her family and her life. She has always had deep affinity with teenage girls, and by sharing her wisdom and compassion she infects the reader with her enthusiasm for this life stage.
From Daughter to Women is out July 18th published by Little Brown and is sure to be invaluable for those raising teenagers. It includes topics such as puberty, periods, relationships and wellbeing and I love the concept of Mother-Daughter dates.
Do check out the rest of the blog tour.
Thanks to Faye Rogers for also proving a PDF which I’m looking forward to reading.