Social Media | Teenage Years

It’s becoming more clear to all of us, just how important relationships are. Media shares stories of instant tragedy all over the world. And with the constant call to wake up, it seems that a lot of us are trading things for time, choosing to be more minimalistic about ‘stuff’.

 

Afternoons in my home are crazy. Not like a bad crazy, but just constant. And I love it — as long as everyone is happy:) Tonight my kids went off to be with their dad for a bit. The sudden contrast, the instant silence, it left me feeling a little sad. The empty house gave me time to organize, and clean. But it was oddly unsatisfying. I was reminded that every moment is a gift, and I don’t want to take time for granted with the ones I love.

The value of relationship is becoming more clear these days. From personal wellness to social impact, we were made to connect and feel, designed to engage. There are sober cues every day. Stories of tragedy from around the world call for a wake up, advise us to be present and live intentionally. Social media has become less useful for venting, and more inspirational toward human kindness. Many of us are trading things for time, stuff for experience, adopting the minimalist’s perspective. What’s the point of it all, if we don’t have each other anyway?

Maybe the conversation about internet safety is hard to have. I get it. Talking with our tweens|teens can be tricky. But the stakes are high. And their path depends on clear insight. They need your attention and your time.

We’re here because we long for character in our homes, integrity online. If you’re looking for some conversation starters, check out the ones posted here on the blog.

Your influence is powerful. Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Make the moment perfect.

For regular engagement with We Thrive Online, join on Instagram and Facebook too!

Together we thrive~

Ayme

Social Media | For Parents

Given a chance to do something differently, who wouldn’t swipe the opportunity? I can cite some very exact moments from my past that I’d change in a heartbeat. How about you?

What if you had opportunity to re-do something from the past, change or improve one moment in time? What would it be? We all have something. I can instantly name more than a handful. How about you?

Try to think of one in particular, — maybe an embarrassing event, or a phase you went through…or just a dumb choice that led to a heap more. How old were you when it happened? My guess is you were in your late teens or early 20’s.

Now imagine if it had been documented, – photos, video, and all. Imagine if your most regretful act was now available for replay, indefinitely. — I’d rather not. But maybe yours was.

Today, moments in time are captured without hesitation, and instantly made permanent. It’s scary, for all of us, and especially when it comes to kids and teenagers. Science tells us that their brains are still developing the ability to measure consequences. Yet, they are sharing photos and words, often in moments of impulse, in forms that remain accessible long-term. What will they think in 10 years, if these things reappear?

Modern pre-teens and young adults are naturally as immature and prone to poor judgement as we were. It’s why age is the determination for freedoms within our society. Psychological and emotional readiness take time, and rushing the process can lead to permanent damage, both emotionally and physically.

Exposure to mature and complicated media is not something to take lightly.

Suppose your 13-year-old daughter comes to you and says, “I’ve got this. I’ve been watching you drive for years.” Do you hand her the keys? What if your 15-year-old says he’s going with some friends to the drive-in, one next to a strip club, …do you let him go along? You guys, when we leave our kids on their own with internet freedom, the door is open to situations like these.

It’s tricky online because boundaries aren’t always enforced, followed, or even determined. When it comes to social media, we share a platform where every user follows different rules, or none at all.And as parents, we can’t pretend to know about everything out there.

Accessibility is constantly changing. From private messages to texting, Instagram and Snapchat, Facebook, Youtube, Minecraft, etc. we have to be on guard. The conversation requires heart-centered, truthful conversation, a will for strong character.

Here are some thoughts, as we consider the impact and depth of media freedom for our kids.

Boundaries / Expectations with Connection

  • What kind of purpose does your son/daughter have with the media they choose, and what are the exact boundaries to keep this focus? Do you agree with their thoughts?

  • If this is how they are connecting with friends, how will they respond to invitation from acquaintances or people they don’t know?

  • Is social media taking priority over in-person connection? How are you helping managing the time and establish limits?

  • What kind of acceptance are they expecting with social media?

  • Is your son/daughter relying on the approval of others for self-worth? Is a calculation of likes, comments, and followers a predominant concern for them?

  • Do you want your child to connect with others using social media?

Behavior

  • Does your son/daughter understand what is acceptable behavior? — Can they recognize when something is rude, mean, indecent, embarrassing, or overly critical?

  • Would your son/daughter have the wits not to post or respond to something that is rude, mean, indecent, embarrassing, or overly critical? How would they respond when friends do?

  • Is your son/daughter hanging around people who would post inappropriately?

  • Do your son/daughter’s friends understand what is acceptable behavior? Would they try to post anything to embarrass or hurt your child? (When our kids spend time with other kids who have social media, their actions are most likely documented.)

  • Do you trust your son/daughter’s behavior with social media?

Images / Permanence

  • Social media opens the door for your child to view pornography, violence, and other graphic images. How can they avoid this? Do the apps and websites they use have filtering? — Does it work?

  • Would your son/daughter search for pornography, violence, and other graphic images if they could?

  • What kinds of photos and videos is your son/daughter posting? Do they understand the permanence with it?

  • Would your son/daughter be ok if you saw every thing they were posting?

  • Do you trust your son/daughter’s judgement with posting?

Cyberbullying

  • Does your son/daughter know what cyberbullying is?

  • Has your son/daughter ever experienced this? — Are you sure?

  • Would your son/daughter bully someone online?

  • How would your son/daughter respond if someone bullied them online?

  • How would your son/daughter respond if someone bullied someone else online?

  • Do you feel comfortable with how your child would respond to cyberbullying?

Feelings / Self-Esteem / Self-Actualization

  • Does your son/daughter have a healthy self-image? Do you talk with them about it?

  • Does your son/daughter have other kind of engagement with people aside from social media?

  • Is your son/daughter feeling pressured to use social media because it is popular, or do they really enjoy it?

  • Do you feel that social media is a resource that builds your child up? Is it supporting their fullest potential?

Here are some extra links that I found helpful for all of this.

Together We Thrive!

~ Ayme

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201703/why-social-media-is-not-smart-middle-school-kids

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/social-media-smarts.html#

http://www.parenting.com/gallery/social-media-monitoring-kids

http://www.bewebsmart.com/parental-control-links/

https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-and-Social-Networking-100.aspx

Intentionality with Social Media

 

“Be intentional.” — What does that mean anyway? Purposeful, deliberate, pre-meditated, — they’re interchangeable. Sounds ideal, but how does it play out with technology?

“Intention” is basically a fancy way of saying, “think about what you’re doing.” Like, ‘stop wasting time’, and ‘don’t do something you’re going to regret’. There are a lot of other cliche’ phrases that come to mind. But I don’t want this one to lose meaning. I don’t want overuse to dilute it.

My previous post highlighted the receiving end of un-friending, a familiar experience that comes with social media. It showed howpowerful virtual acceptance (and rejection) can be, and how it affects our emotions. Sense of connection persuades overall health and is one of our basic needs. So we need to think this through. – How can we do ‘virtuality’ well, you know, and stay on track?

It seems logical to compare digital efforts with physical fitness. Both require focus, effort, strategy, and consistency. We wonder, “is there a universal plan for diet and exercise?” And the obvious answer is, “of course not.” In the same, we can’t expect to have one for technology either. Digital health is unique and individual; it depends on each person’s experiences and needs. Social media has different effects on all of us, and we need to realize our own limitations and indulgences with it.

While a one-size-fits-all plan does not exist, there are definitely common areas for each of us to consider when it comes to this stuff. Take Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a starting point. Thinking about how social media relates to these basics is really helpful.

Social Media | Human Needs

Physiological (basic survival needs, just to stay alive)

Do we “need” social media for survival? No, but the effects that come with it definitely play a role here. Emotional impact can confuse sleep & hunger patterns, mental stability, and stress levels, etc. Social media can have a powerful influence with everyday function.

On another thought, we need survival skills for social media. Yes!

Safety (a sense of security)

This is probably the most popular concern that people talk about with social media. From mal-intended chatting to pornography addiction and identity theft, the list just grows. Safety awareness is on the rise.

You’ve probably heard a range of stories, like ones of people who’ve posted vacation photos, only to come home and find they have been robbed. That’s pretty crazy. And then the more serious examples of car wrecks and such, we hear about them a lot. Geotagging and location services call for some thought too. — I mean, why do we find ourselves posting personal whereabouts to hundreds of people? We need some caution here.

Let’s break it down even more, think about everyday posts. Details aren’t usually at the forefront of our posts, but they matter. Our sense of security is a huge consideration with social media. Privacy settings are there for a reason. ~

One last thought about security. Internally, I wonder how much of our self-worth (self-confidence and self-care) depends upon digital connection. Food for thought.

Love / Belonging (friendship, trust, and relationship)

This right here. It’s the heart of our conversation. We don’t talk about this much with other people. Yet, it all centers here. No matter what reason we use social media (business, personal, etc.) or to what extent, here are a few questions to self about digital relationships.

How am I contributing toward relationship with others, and what am I gaining? What level of vulnerability is acceptable for me? How authentic am I being with others? How much and what kind of sharing is appropriate? Do I have healthy boundaries with how I define relationship status with others?

Self-Esteem (status and attention; sense of accomplishment)

Social media can really build us up here, especially if we have a large following. Public posting of accomplishments and photos with bragging rights are all over this. But what if we don’t desire a huge following? Or what if we want one, but can’t grow it?

Self-Actualization (achieving full potential; meeting personal goals; success with hobbies and interests)

Individuality (identity) is the focus with most things digital. It’s literally a “my world, my way” mode. But we don’t always realize it. It begins small, with a simple device, — first color and design preference, then the apps and the settings, etc. And however deliberate, we ultimately define the boundaries, or lack thereof, by which to live. We literally say “yes I approve” or “no I don’t” with every download, deciding what is acceptable, and what is not, for our own standards. In the process of managing preferences, it’s easy to tune out differences of others around us. We can totally lose touch with reality if we aren’t careful. Even with the best motive, we can grow to idolize the image of digital identity.

The pinnacle thought here is this. Does social media encourage me to grow into full potential? & Is my self-actualization based on reality?

I have 3 kids of my own and a class full on weekdays. This is a huge topic for them. (These ideas are challenging in the middle of adolescence.) Please subscribe to receive the next post {Part 3: Youth and Social Media}.

Thanks for joining me here.I hope you are encouraged by these posts.~

Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

~Ayme

Unfriended. A Personal Experience

When virtual presence meets emotion, we can’t approach it quite the same as we do offline. How do we do this well?

It might have happened to you before. This week, I lost a social media friend, and I have no idea who it is. When I noticed, it stung my heart. I questioned my feed, my recent posts, and my authenticity. Did this person know me very well? Did I do something wrong? Friendship is important to me, so honestly, a bit of my self-esteem fell to insecurity too.

What do we do when things like this happen? How should we respond? — When virtual presence meets emotion, we can’t approach it quite the same as we do offline. I won’t be able to figure out who this person is, unless I try reaching out to them. Should I search my feed to see if it was a “close friend” or an “acquaintance?” Doing this is only easy if your friend list is concise. It’s hard to think, if they remain anonymous, I won’t be able to ask why they un-friended me or find out the reasoning. It is such an emotional experience, losing a friend.

But what if this un-friending actually has nothing to do with me at all?

I realize that now is the season of Lent (between Ash Wednesday and Easter),and many people are taking social media breaks and unplugging for 40 days, or completely. Maybe this person just called it quits with technology for a bit. That makes sense, but still leaves me unsettled. What is it, exactly, that people need a break from, you know? (I think most of us do.) Have you noticed too, social media seems to be a really popular thing to “give up” these days. ~

Even yet, if it isn’t personal, and it isn’t a holiday fast, then why else would someone disappear from my friend list? Maybe this person is hurting. Maybe they’re going through something traumatic that doesn’t mesh well with Facebook or small talk. Were they just “over it?” Or, among even more reasons, could it just be as simple as this…Maybe they lost a friend that day too, like me, and couldn’t understand why, so they pulled their account completely. Can you relate to my experience? Have you ever found yourself in this position, too?

It doesn’t take much effort to develop a pro and con list with social media. No other generation has navigated friendships this way, so we are learning in every moment. The whole process, and its affects, are a hot topic. Why do we do it? And how do we do it well? Is there a “right” way to socialize virtually?

Without the use of senses to connect with others, it is extremely easy to develop blurred understanding. We can be misread, and we can also misread others. It can lead to depression, as we know, and it can also make way for pride and vanity.

Social media acceptance becomes an idol for us, if we aren’t careful. It’s scary to think, but true. Approval from others isn’t a solid foundation for self-worth, and it will never fill the void. We can’t let it define our importance or credibility. We weren’t created for this.

Confidence, when it is built on the approval of others,

will always be shaken…no matter who you are.

Even while we know these things, how do we handle ourselves when emotions waiver? What kind of truth can we hold onto instead?

~Ayme

Positive Internet Safety

The pros and cons of what we’re doing online, I’m weighing in, making sense of it all. How about you?

 

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “digital safety?” Do you immediately think about predators and intentional wrongdoing? Yep, me too, — I’d say that’s probably where a lot of us go. But digital safety is positive. It’s not just about defense. With time and thought, digital safety empowers us, frees us.

It’s hard to even put it out there for conversation “digital safety.” You and I, we’d rather talk about something else, – a vacation we’re dreaming of, or an exciting home project, maybe just go shopping instead. I love all of those things. But there’s great value and opportunity in this discussion too, for all of us.

How can we associate this with the positive?

When you go camping, do you prepare first? Of course! You get supplies together, and make a plan. In the same way, we have to prepare for online adventuring, put some thought into it. With clear view and a secure route, the digital world becomes less scary and more positive. Without these things, we easily end up in the wrong situation.

“Guard your heart.”

But how?

What does “digital safety” look like, specifically, and tangibly, from the heart? That’s exactly what I’m asking. That’s why I’m committed here.

For all of us, kids included, screens are core for daily interaction and productivity. In one way or another, they are literally everywhere. You don’t have to own a phone, or even have wifi, to be a part of this conversation.

I spend time here because I I know the topic is relevant for others. We all need clear direction with this stuff. And I am set out for a solid path. Are you?

Even with filters and monitors, some things are simply unavoidable. We have to seek protection for our hearts above all else. Knowing what to walk away from, and how, are key. But walking away from these things also means walking toward something else.

What are our options? What are our choices?

Join the Conversation!

Together We Thrive~

Ayme

Technology | DIY Freedom

Determine the goal. | Determine Reasoning / “Why” | Design Boundaries / Consider Consequences | Create Accountability

 

Pros and cons with internet connection leave me unsettled. How about you? It’s not “if” we need discretion, but how and why, and when. “Hoping for the best” doesn’t pan out; there’s too much to consider. But I refuse to dwell in fear. How do you feel about it all?

Most of us, especially if you’re in on this conversation, are trying to figure out some kind of balance with technology. And however deliberate, we approach it with one of three ways: Avoidance (limiting exposure), Acceptance (living in the moment), or Accommodation (a combination of both). Bluntly, we either dodge it, ignore it, or engage it.

It’s a juggling act, right? A fine balance of awareness and limitation, advantage lies with fierce commitment to boundaries, freedom, and constant communication. Without these things, we fall complacent to ‘accept’ whatever lands on our doorstep.

This is all reallyhumbling.The ebb and flow for independence still requires more. It calls for a willing heart. Character is a choice, the key to all of it.

So, the question is really this.How do we encourage strong character?

DIY Positive Online Character

Could it be so easy!?

Here are some ideas for inspiring strong character with technology freedom in our homes, including (a parenting perspective).

Determine the Goal:(Independence and Self-regulation. Do our kids understand that the choices they make directly effect their future? What they do is a reflection of who they are, not us. All of this is focused toward autonomy, and we want the best things in life for them. The tricky part is trying to keep that in mind when it’s hectic.)

Determine Reasoning: Why is this the goal?(Our kids are just years away from becoming adults! Like I said, we want the best for their future. But since they’re still kids, what’s the short-term plan? This is where it gets crazy. “Mom, can I get this app?” “Can I watch Youtube?” “I want to get this game.” You know the plea bargaining, — everyone’s kids are doing it. ‘I want more…I want more.’ It’s how we’re wired and it’s how technology is moving. For us, this is where boundaries are a lifeline for reasoning.)

Design Boundaries / Consider the Consequences:(If we can’t discuss the consequences, we can’t allow opportunity. In other words, unless consequences are age-appropriate / something we’re comfortable explaining, it has to be a definite “no.” Everything else can be opportunity for learning. Well, sort of. You know the boundaries I was talking about? They’re different for each of my kids. But no matter what, technology is a privilege. The ability to have a phone, create passwords, download apps, use the internet, all of it — it’s our gift to them. It’s a ‘gift that keeps on giving.’ Seriously though…it is. Regardless of all efforts, an attitude of expectation totally sinks their boat. Expectation halts the gifting.)

Create accountability.(This is the big part. Accountability is built on a relationship with trust and respect. Each of our kids has unique needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Accountability looks different for each one. Our job is to meet them where they are at. We have to pay attention and stay aware. It’s not easy, at all. In addition, we can’t be ignorant to temptation. Even as we work toward trusting relationships, it’s only logical to limit what’s on the plate. We have to set some kind of restrictions. For my family, these have grown to include internet filtering, time and password limits, and other restrictions that manage ratings and content. What kind of limits work for you, for your family?)

Age and experience do not define us. Online identity is powerful.

Every day is a new beginning! Be determined for this, no matter where you are at.

I often wonder, what would it have been like to raise kids 20 years ago? Does every generation feel like their dilemmas are the hardest? When I wish for a manual on modern revolution, I have to remember that it all falls back on the heart. And since the beginning of creation, that has always been. I’m thankful for my faith and the power that prayer has in my life. I don’t center posts around this, sensitive that there are many beliefs. But for me, my faith in God is the greatest source of peace I can ever find.

Together We Thrive!

Ayme

Screens | A Clear View

Believing we can “do it all”, these days many of us hustle to the beat of a growing agenda. It’s unrealistic. The ‘Super People’ mentality overwhelms me. How about you? An array of media and images makes it seem possible, but it’s not. We often get caught up in a list of to-dos that simply draw our attention to the wrong things. Living thoughtfully and intentionally is tricky in our society.

Internet accountability takes time, energy, and diligence. Whether focused on self or others, we can’t be all-in with this until we get a clear view. Goals have to be realistic, and distractions limited. My family has entirely different needs, strengths, and weaknesses than yours…and vice verse. It’s time to focus, right where you are. It’s time for me, right where I am too.

Put on your boots, move the hair from your eyes, and look forward. You need a clear view to walk this road, — your road.

Self-control.It is the core of positive thinking andthe root of healthy living. We need self-control with our time, our thoughts, and our agendas. Self-control is the keystone for positive online behavior. Filters and other attempts to manage screens are only part of the solution. They are only effective with a willing and determined heart.

Internal moral judgement is critical to finding a strong way. Without reasoning and rationale for healthy online habits, how can we expect them to last?

Here are some questions to consider for our families. (Click on link below.)

In every home, no matter what makeup, screen use is a daily consideration. It’s not a one-time fix. Updates, downloads, and evolving opportunities make this an ongoing necessity. From fake news to psychologically-driven coding, we peruse feeds daringly. Careful evaluation is in high demand.

Let’s unite, as individuals, families, and friends, to use opportunity well and implore goodness at every angle.~