For kids, middle school and high school are the years where they start to figure out their own identity. Each child is different and matures in their own way. It is not a cookie cutter system by any means. Yet, I feel that during this time in a kid’s life they are looking out into the world and also looking inward to see who they are. There is a lot pressure on them.
Kids want to find their tribe. This is where peer pressure starts to show it’s ugly head. There is that “want” to fit in. Back in the day when I was growing up there was no social media. I only had to worry about the kids in my school and neighborhood, which back then I thought was a lot. Now with kids using social media for validation, kids have to worry about a lot more than just their peers in school and their neighborhood.
Do Whatever It Takes To Be Popular
As I talk with many parents especially dads one common topic that keeps on coming up is the detriment of social media. Now I am not looking to be that old man who yells at a cloud. The internet and social media have some great benefits. For a kid who is still looking for their identity there are so many problems that arise when they are looking for validation from strangers. Parents need to be involved and invested in their child’s life. For me I believe that social media should be allowed for people 18 years and older. Let children socialize with their friends in person. They won’t have the need to see how many likes they received or worse yet see the disturbing or mean comments from someone they don’t even know.
On social media kids can’t distinguish between what is real and not real. Negative comments start to creep into their minds. Kids start to question their worth. All for what? Kids shouldn’t need to worry about a like or a comment from a stranger. They might see a friend with more followers and wonder why they are so “popular” online. So they might do some new trend like the one a few months ago where kids were destroying school bathrooms. For the life of me I can’t figure out how or why this was a trend. I did stupid things as a kid, but not to the extent where I was breaking a toilet for likes on the internet. Ultimately it comes down to us parents trying to instill values into our kids that will make them not even think of doing something so foolish.
Look How Many Sticky Notes I Got At School Today
Recently, I was talking with a fellow dad about our concerns for kids being on social media. Both, his kids and my kids do not have social media accounts. We were talking about the many dangers and pitfalls those accounts have on kids. There is anxiety. Kids start to doubt themselves. Heck, we were even talking about how adults get sucked in to that world too. As we were discussing the issue of kids doing stupid things on TikTok or Instagram just for likes I came up with analogy of just how idiotic it is to do things for people you don’t know.
It would be like for me when I was a kid and social media wasn’t around, but still looked to be liked by everyone. Just imagine a kid going into a school bathroom and destroying it. After I was done I would bring in all of my classmates, even the ones who I didn’t know. I would show them what I did and asked if they were impressed. If they were I would receive a sticky note from them. I would be so excited if I came home with a fifty sticky notes in my pocket that day.
When my parents asked my how school was I would show them all the sticky notes I got at school from my peers. After blank stares from them I would have to explain why I got those sticky notes. Of course I would be grounded and have to go to school and clean up my mess, but just think of all those “likes” I got at school today.
The Lessons We Need To Share With Our Kids
We need to talk to our kids about all the dangers of social media. From the dangerous people out there looking to harm them to trying to get likes from people they don’t even know or care about. I have seen the phrase, “Don’t take criticism from people you wouldn’t take advice from,” recently. That goes along with how I feel about social media. We need to know what really matters in life. Getting a like or a follow from someone won’t change your life. Creating strong friendships with people in the real world goes a lot further than anything on social media. This is a lesson we need to teach our kids.