Love / Hate relationships with Social Media and our Kids

As a mother of a teenager, I am sure most will relate when I say I have a real love/hate relationship with Facebook and Snapchat

This addiction to social media turns a perfectly gorgeous individual into a narcissistic twat that thinks without that link to the outside world, life may actually end.

I have watched my daughter exhibit what can only be described as schizophrenic changes in moments as she navigates the cascade of snaps and facebook likes.

Most recently a beautiful smiling child entered her room to return to the dinner table a sad morose figure, when questioned ‘ Nothing is wrong Mum

Ensuing questioning and I find the significant other has let friends onto his snap handle, sad little teens adding my daughter to taunt her and that apparently this young man cannot understand what the issue is. One of his mates sending negative, derogatory messages of hate and descent and a female friend of his sending pictures to inflame the already bad situation with snide remarks…..and this so called unofficial boyfriend cannot understand what is wrong with my daughter.

The world our children are navigating is one that we have little to no control over…just as my parents and those before were worried about the pace with which everything around them was changing, we as parents have to get onboard and start to understand so that we can be a little more help to them when confronted by these issues.

A good friend posted on facebook recently in response to the bullying her daughter was receiving, her husband is a police officer and she proceeded to dress down the bullies in a bid to make them aware that it was not a hidden evil and that she had an open relationship with her daughter, one that meant she saw all the bullying activity from these kids. She had a wave of support from the facebook community, young children and other parents who have all been touched by similar events. But the reality is this support may not stop the bully, this support may not make the life of your child easier, if anything it may well make their lives more difficult. It may ramp up the scale by which they get attacked. We will use consistent platitudes to make our children feel better, we will tell them to rise above the bullying and be better. We will utter stories of our own adolescent encounters and the way we survived…but at the end of the day our children are navigating this spiteful world on their own and have to make tough decisions alone. I commend my friends who stand up and call out these children and request help from their parents and I hope that before there is another beautiful child pushed to death at their own hand that things change. Learning as I go I see there has to be a strength and resilience taught to our children from birth, an ingrained idea of right and wrong and an empathy to walk beside another, not over them. In this world of social media existence, all we can do is arm our children with the skills to close the screen on the hurt being dished out and move forward remembering not to inflict the same pain on others.

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