By: Dr. Erica Wollerman
As a follow up to our recent blog about social media (from Panicha McGuire, check it out here!), I thought it might be helpful to give parents some ideas about how we can help kids and teens think critically and relate to social media differently. I find that so many of us, particularly some of the teens and kids that I work with, seem to be just consuming media and social media without really thinking about it, challenging it, or facilitating a dialogue about it. Especially with the “meme” culture we have going on. I have teens that I work with who seem to only communicate in memes without any real awareness of where the quotes came from, why they find them funny, or what they really mean. While it’s all very entertaining, I think we should all exercise some critical thinking and perspective taking when scrolling social media or just watching TV. The reality is that what we watch, read, and are exposed to affects our emotions, thoughts, and perception of the world.
Here are some of my basic tips in how parents can support their kids in thinking critically about social media:
Ok, I know that is a tough list. It sounds so simple but it’s very easy to not do any of those things as a parent, especially considering just how busy we all are these days!
Here are some suggestions of questions and ways to approach these conversations:
“Hey, I heard about filters on SnapChat, can you show me your favorite? Oh wow, that is amazing! Look how good we look! You know, that makes me think that maybe all the pictures I see on TV, magazines, and maybe even Instagram have been edited like this… do you think that’s possible?”
“Have you watched that show 13 Reasons Why? I’ve been hearing that there is a lot of mixed opinions about it… what do you think about it?”
“You know what I noticed the other day is that the days that I spend more time on facebook, instagram, etc, the more I feel grumpy, unhappy with my life, or annoyed. It just seems like everyone else is having the best time all the time! Do you ever feel that way?” If they say that they do, you could share that you try to remember that everything on social media is curated and not representative of a person’s total life, just the parts they want to share.
And maybe it’s not ALL the time that you do this, but just sometimes. Anything could help plant a seed that helps your child/teen (or yourself) remember that social media is not representative of real life for most people, images are very curated, and all of it is designed to distract us from our face-to-face interactions so that the companies creating the media products can make more money!
If you would like to talk with a Thrive therapist about your or your teen’s use of social media, please give us a call! We love helping families through these issues!
At Thrive, we take a positive, client centered approach to therapy that is focused on creating a genuine connection with our clients. If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are always welcome regarding any issues around child or teen psychotherapy services in San Diego by Thrive Therapy Studio.
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"Watch your thoughts,
They become words.
Watch your words,
They become actions.
Watch your actions,
They become habits.
Watch your habits,
They become character;
It becomes your destiny."