Navigating parenting with children in today’s world of technology is not without its challenges. As my 14 year old displays certain behaviors, both her dad and I ask: Is this normal teenager stuff? Irritability, carbohydrate binging, anger, low energy, negative outlook, low self-esteem at times, disorganization, and an overall sense that she is always half listening. With exasperated sighs we wonder if anyone else is dealing with these symptoms? Armed with my background in Psychology and my awareness as a tech entrepreneur, I wanted to get to the bottom of her symptoms. Is this normal teenager behavior or is there something more going on?
Negative effects of social media
Recent reports have discussed the impacts of social media on teens. The statistics are devastating when you read the article in The Atlantic. We have tech giants now reporting that we “did it on purpose”. Many years ago I saw the wild love affair we were having with social media likes and displaying our life to the world. I immediately wondered what this would do to children? I wondered about my fellow parents, my friends, and looking at my babies 7 years ago I knew I had to get to the bottom of it. Yet even with all that I learned, had navigated professionally in the world of tech, nothing could prepare me for the windfall of social media on my own child.
Our child is in grade 9 and reading this statistic, alarmed me and also made me completely ashamed: “Eighth-graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they’re unhappy than those who devote less time to social media.” – The Atlantic. With a heavy heart I knew my child was in this statistic whether we wanted to admit it or not.
Most of the time I am ill-prepared for effective solutions to help her navigate her digital world. I cycle through my parent guilt and talk with my ex-husband at length about what is happening to our child. A year ago she was competing top level in tennis and today she barely wants to leave her room, absorbed by Instagram and Snapchat. I think back to my years as a teenager, some similar symptoms for sure but there is a whole new level of shock to the pervasiveness of this technology.
As her parent, I know it is time for an intervention. But how does one go about an intervention in social media? I decided we must look no further than to the drug addiction guidelines for interventions (yes, I think it’s that serious). Not to amp up the fear mongering around social media but we wanted practical solutions to navigate this new frontier of pervasive social media on teenagers.
Read the rest of Janice Taylor’s Huffington Post article here.