I think the future of social media should scare new parents. In the future, this culture of constant comparison, façade of perfection, and desire to get endless reactions from those around us will be placed into the hands of our children.
These perfect little people who have had each month of life documented with chalk board art and details of their every behavior. Children who unknowingly have embarrassing details of their personal actions discussed openly or even photographed for others’ amusement and social likes.
I’m terrified…because I know I’m guilty.
I’m terrified because social media over the years has had a direct effect on the way I see myself and others.
I have twin daughters that will turn three in just a few months. I picture them growing up, I see them playing sports, acting in a play, having slumber parties, first dates, first dances and SO much more. But I also see them coming to me upset because they’ve been hurt.
I practice with myself asking “how will you handle that” or “what would you say if…?”. I try and pull things from my own adolescence or experiences. However, when it comes to cyberbullying or social media, I feel helpless. These weren’t issues when I was a kid. When we went home, we went home.
If I wasn’t invited to Sarah’s house I found out on Monday morning and we talked about it. I didn’t get blasted with photos of the awesome party I was left out of all weekend. If I wore something I shouldn’t have, no one was taking photos of me and posting them for the entire school to comment on.
How do we raise confident children in this new world?
Somewhere between our future teens’ overly suggestive photos, meltdowns due to hurtful comments, and constantly comparing themselves to not just classmates, but an entire network of adolescents, we have to help them find themselves.
Are you scared yet?
I tell myself daily to be aware of the tiny eyes. Meaning my kids are ALWAYS watching me. They look to me for my reaction after they fall, when I eat something new, when I talk to a new neighbor and when I play on my phone.
I’ve walked into a room where my daughter has a play phone and she is holding it up saying “cheese” pretending to take a photo of her sister. Do I smile, or is this slightly gut-wrenching? Is it the new normal that they are always being photographed for social media? Do they see themselves as entertainment for others?
As I write this, I feel guilt. I feel fear, and ultimately, I know even if I drastically change our lifestyle, social media will still be out there lurking, just waiting for my daughters.
But for me it’s worth changing if it means those tiny eyes will see I’m not tied to this online world. Maybe, just maybe, I can be a positive influence on how they see themselves without going online for reassurance.
One last note: am I the only one who is ready for Facebook & Instagram to pull a Myspace and just disappear?
This post reflects the views of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Or, if you’d like to hear some overall thoughts on digital technology from Christians at THRED, you can find those over here.