Social Media and Teenagers
15 Aug 2016
Written from perspective of blended Mom, Laura
Have you ever looked at your teen and wondered who they would be without the constant disruption of social media? Though we are all guilty of uploading “in the moment” photos instead of relishing in the moment, the frequency by which teens use social media is astronomical. Those of us who never had the experience of living our teenage years with social media seem to misunderstand and sometimes judge our teen’s social media posts due to their insatiable appetite to express who they are through this application. Certainly, it doesn’t help that parents in our family dynamic do not live with our children 100 percent of the time and subsequently we are often left to social media as a means to understand what our children are feeling and/or doing. It is during those times where disconnects, misperceptions and feelings of neglect can occur.
The reality is social media can be hurtful, negative, and disruptive IF we allow it. I remember looking at our kids’ social media applications and noticing that there weren’t any pictures or “check-ins” of their father and I. In many instances we see the bio parents plastered all over their social media accounts with exclusion of blended family members. In our case, my husband and I were devoid of existence. This was hurtful, and at times almost seemed intentional. What I failed to recognize is that most kids want to feel normal and any small iteration other than whatever normal is, becomes devastating to our teens. Oh and let’s not forget the hormonal component to all of this in addition!
I would by lying if I didn’t admit that I cringed at times previewing our kids having a weekend blast with their other family only because it seemed so one-sided. It had seemed intentional because in turn we had done fun activities as well and they had no intention of including us into their social media world. I realized I had two choices: either I eliminated social media completely or I had to change my perspective completely. I choose the later.
Instead of taking the exclusion as a negative, I started addressing certain media instances and asking them about it, trying to turn it into a positive. The less I made it about my emotions, and my feelings, the more open our kids were with us. Cardinal rule number one: TEENS ARE ALL ABOUT ME, MYSELF AND I! Candidly, I wanted to know what they were doing even if my husband and I weren’t included in those applications whatsoever. The more I was able to open the door with social media, the more they felt comfortable with expressing their thoughts/feelings with us. I even was able to understand that they had been “punished” by the bio mom if we were included in any social media events/thoughts. We certainly did not want to do the same in return.
My goal for you is to change your perspective with our teens and social media. Certainly if there are offensive posts of any parent immediate attention needs to be sought out. In our teens’ lives, they put so much stress on who they are and how they look we subsequently become the LAST people on earth they want to be seen with. And honestly, that’s OK! In my opinion, that IS normal! As I see our kids grow older into young adults, I’ve realized being “out” of the social media spectrum, the more we are “in” their daily lives. The teen years are hard for not only our children and but as parents as well– whether we are a traditional family or blended. It does get better, but using social media as a way to open the doors for conversation as opposed to creating barriers in order to self serve, will give us the opportunities to gain more perspective into who they really are, not what others think they are.