February is the month of reds & pink. Hearts are everywhere and we want you to love encourage your kids to love their online self! The New Year brought for many resolutions and goals to work towards in 2017. This month we encourage you to look at your child’s social media and what they are sharing about themselves. It’s a chance to change their digital footprint and how they view themselves and others online.
Social media is a relatively new experience for most tweens/teens and us adults, but the teens/tween have embraced it whole heartedly. It’s a fantastic way for them to showcase their personality through their posts. It’s a way they can keep in touch with friends and family. Social Media can be a wonderful tool when we use it to engage positively and share images showcasing us in a positive light, volunteering in the community, supporting events and causes that are important to them. However, it can also have a negative effect on how they view themselves and what images they post of themselves. The kids feel that when they share images of them looking the best that they feel they can, or encourage to share ‘thinspirational’ images that they are liked more when what they are actually doing is creative a negative body image and how they see themselves.
The world of technology encourages you to be picture ready 24/7. It changes how we feel about yourselves and our body image. There is an unspoken pressure to only share images that you look good in or have touched up with any of the numerous apps that allow you to do this. There are even social platforms and apps that encourage you to post images and ask questions about yourself… Am I fat? Do I look ugly? Do you like my hair? And wait for the response. But when the kids post on these platforms, how are they left feeling about themselves? They feel great if the responses are positive and lots of people are commenting with what they want to hear, but what if they hear the negative, then how are they left feeling about themselves? Or, what if no one responds at all, how are they left feeling then?
This year we are encouraging to help your kids not get caught up in it all. Have open conversations about posting the selfies and images they like and don’t let the responses and the number of likes, shares, or comments affect how they feel about themselves. Don’t set themselves up for failure by posting on sites and asking if they like their hair or if they think they are pretty or worse, do they have ‘thigh space’. Encourage them to avoid platforms that focus on self-image and posting such posts. They want to know who they are connecting to online and should only connect with people who they know in real life. When they see negative posts, change how they respond. Don’t use put downs or negative comments themselves. Be positive and encouraging to their friends. If they wouldn’t say it to their face, why would they hide behind a screen and write a rude or negative comment about someone. Encourage them to be a digital leader and create a positive digital footprint for themselves.
Talk to them about the number of followers and comments. The number game is a big deal to the tweens and teen and they do get caught up in it. Do you know that majority of the kids before they even put up the post have a number in their head of how many likes, or comments they want on a picture. They have that ‘magic’ number and when they don’t get it they delete the picture/post. How does it really make them fell what’s doing to their self-esteem and image. We want them to Embrace it! They liked the picture they should be proud of what they are sharing. Encourage them to think about how they react or what they do when they see someone respond with a negative comment.
This month we encourage you to really stop and think about what your kids are sharing and how it will impact their future or that of another person. Remember what you put online does not go away even if you delete it someone has seen it, commented, shared it or taken a screen shot of it. Encourage them to keep the #THINK rule in mind before they post, stop and take a minute to look at what they are about to say and share.
Just like in real life you want them to surround themselves with positive people and posts online, and not get drawn into the negative that can occur online. Start to really create think about their digital footprint and be proud of how they represent themselves online. You want them to be a role model, and one that their friends can look up to. But most importantly you want them to love their online self!
Stacy Maynard & Kerry Hills are moms with successful social media businesses. We have a passion for helping children understand how to use social media safely. We have joined together to implement into classrooms and the community our Socially Safe, Socially Fun, Social Media programs. We are Moms of kids between the ages of 9 to 17, so we understand the need to help our kids stay safe and create a positive digital footprint. Social Media is not going away and we are passionate about teaching our kids how to use it, have fun and stay Socially Safe.