Our eldest daughter recently got her first phone and with it, set up her first social media account. Here are some really ‘un-cool’ things we insisted we talked about long before we gave her the phone, in the hope of helping her see social media from all the different angles. We’re so uncool that we even got her to grab a notebook and write down her answers (sometimes in list form!) in response to these questions.
- What are the risks of having a social media account?
- What are the benefits?
- How will you keep yourself safe on social media?
- How will you use social media to help others?
- How will you use social media to organise your life – after-school activities, sports, clubs, youth groups etc.
- How will you use social media to connect with your friends and family, nearby and far away?
- What should young people think about before posting something?
- What’s okay to share?
- What’s not okay to share?
- How long do you think young people should spend on social media each day?
- Why do you think people still feel lonely, even if they’re connected on social media?
Another issue we should talk about with our kids is the potential of social media addiction. Every time we get positive responses to something we’ve posted, our brain gets a highly addictive hit of dopamine. Our young people might be surprised to learn that it is the same sort of chemical reaction that occurs when people gamble or use recreational drugs. Ask your kids why they think it feels so good to get a ‘like’ on social media. Ask them what they think those feel-good hits could cause us to do next… For the keenly philosophical, ask them how they think app developers capitalise on the addictive power of social media and other technology. Talking about the power of addiction goes a long way in equipping our kids to stand strong in the face of it.
For the keenly philosophical, ask them how they think app developers capitalise on
the addictive power of
This is a lifelong conversation. Regular check-ins with our kids about what’s happening in their online worlds and how it is making them feel are so very important. Like any tricky topic, sometimes our kids won’t be that forthcoming in their responses, but it’s vital we stay available, stay open to discussion, and always position ourselves as unconditional listeners. And we also need to walk the talk – modelling healthy social media habits and boundaries. Our kids are looking at us and will truly benefit when we authentically demonstrate that real life is so much more fulfilling than scrolling.