By: Laura Rice, MS
Paper Cranes Healthcare Behavioral Health
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”—Maya Angelou
First, I am starting this blog off with the above quote of Maya Angelou. It speaks loudly to me because it is a reminder to not be complacent. There is always something more to learn about in effort of improving an area of life, while prompting me to not dwell on the past. Social media and technology is forever changing and keeping up to speed is essential. We learn from our mistakes and there are many that can be made with social media.
Did you know that social media was used to begin a relationship with a minor in 50% of all sex crimes against a minor involving a social network site?
Secondly, I would like to apologize at the start of this wellness blog for the possibility of writing in a frustrated or angry state at some points, while discussing social media. I choose an infuriated response at times in regards to social media because I see our children being so deeply affected in a negative way. I see relationships that are crumbling as an effect of the social media obsession. My feelings of frustration and anger are not towards others. They are directed towards social media and the social apps and the continuous grasp it has over our young generation. Our children’s communication, self-esteem, social skills, attention, emotional regulation, physical health, school success, happiness, relationships, goals, sleep, behaviors and childhood in general are being negatively influenced and stunted because of social media and screen time. Yes, social media is a part of our times and our “smart” devices allow us to be smart in the subject that we choose.
Did you know that more than half of teens have given out personal information including photos and physical descriptions to a stranger online?
I recognize that fighting the innovative development of our times is not ideal, but I firmly believe that we need to be smarter than our “smartphones” when it comes to raising our children. “Raising our Children” is directed to our community and our village, not individual parents. It “Takes a Village to Raise a Child” and our community needs to do better.
Did you know that 67% of teenagers say they know how to hide their online behavior from their parents and 43% would change their online behaviors if they knew their parents were watching them?
I am getting right to the suggestions to help our children because the alarming impact speaks for itself: the anxiety, depression, opposition, isolation, bullying, insecurities, inattentiveness, pornography, negative self-image, lack of confidence, social deficits, victimization, self-hate, self-harm and even suicide.
- The view of social media as a privilege, rather than a necessity or the norm must be the new motto. Social media must have parameters otherwise one person can waste hours of their day, days of their week, weeks of their month, and months of their year.
- Natural forms of socialization need to be promoted and supported. Adults must model this behavior. Talking to people face to face without the phone as a distraction. No phone zones and times such as during meals, while walking, in the car, during activities are some examples. When the phone is put away, this gives the opportunity for families and friends to connect. This gives time for other healthy activities to be enjoyed. This allows for other interests to develop.
- Delaying the use of “smart tablets and phones” by our children as long as possible. Then be sure to have very clear limitations and parental restrictions on the device. It is very important to be the ultimate protector of children when they do have access to a smart phone or tablet. DO NOT TRUST that the apps or sites have your child’s best interest at heart and that the Ratings are accurate.
- Teach your child about the risks and your family’s core values in regards to social media and the use of technology. Answering “ Because I said so” is not recommended. This is a matter that needs ongoing communication and life lessons between children and their caregivers.
- Scrolling, texting, trolling, streaming videos and playing on apps should not be the first choice to fill boredom or be the way to have a child sit quietly still. It is our duty to teach our children how to fill their time with a healthy balance of activities.
- Setting up a daily routine for a child can provide the structure, clear expectations and healthy activities can be so influential for a child and calming for a household. Include screen time in an optimal time for your home and family.
- Teach “Stranger Danger” rules to follow just as you would if you dropped your child off in the middle of New York City.
Did you know that 66% of teens who have witnessed online cruelty have also witnessed others joining?
If there is a concern regarding your child’s well-being and they are having behavioral difficulties, change in mood, sleep disturbance, school difficulties or social difficulties THEN the reduction in screen time may allow for them to open up about what is difficult for them. There is professional support that can assist with emotional, behavioral and social struggles.
Paper Cranes Healthcare can be of further assistance by calling 480-704-3474.
Check out www.papercraneshealthcare.com for upcoming wellness groups for children, teens and adults.