On social media, many parents think they know what’s best for their kids. But here’s what I learned about social media from my Gen Z children.
In their opinion, I made my first huge social media blunder in middle school. I resorted to Twitter to convey my unhappiness with him as an uninterested student and my disappointment in his marks. I felt it was pretty normal for a Mom Life post.
What’s the issue? My son’s teacher, who follows me on Twitter, had a feed on her classroom projector screen that I was unaware of. Only my son’s mother had ever insulted my son on social media before.
They didn’t care about what I wrote on Facebook or Foursquare when they were babies, toddlers, or first-graders. Then they grew into adolescent years. I received more than sarcasm and eye rolls when they reached the age of maturity—I received advise on how to manage my social media presence.
When my son was about three, I acquired my first iPhone and, like many other people, I never stopped checking it. When my son was born, I began working from home so that I could spend more time with him. I wanted to experience what it was like to be “on the other side” of having a working mother. It was a wonderful experience, yet it could also be lonely and isolating at times.
It was a means for me to connect with others through social media. I’d reward myself with a Facebook check during breaks between interviews. I’d tweet a link to a new blog post. I’d Instagram a photo of my lunch. And I’d constantly return to each platform to see what people had to say about it.
Out-of-town relatives were my pretext for featuring my children in social media posts. My son’s grandmother in Wisconsin would be delighted to see him ride his bike for the first time without the aid of training wheels. Their uncle in Chicago could be interested in seeing his niece eat rice cereal for the first time. These great sharing sites allow everyone to witness the development of a child.
After the event involving the middle school tweet, things changed. I spoke with each of them. To paraphrase, they complained about their mother spending too much time on her phone while we were together, which is something that nearly every youngster has complained about. In addition, they requested that I delete them from my social media posts unless they had given their prior consent.
My angry Facebook posts and Twitter tweets don’t include them. For a while, it didn’t make sense. They persuaded me to look into why I was spending so much time on social media. Acceptance was the goal. I chose this job because of the people I would be working with. When I was feeling down, I turned to others for support or counsel. In the actual world, though, I may be able to better meet these needs by speaking with my family, friends, or my children.
My 12-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son frequently tell me how they feel about my online activities. They don’t believe in FOMO. Unplugging is their job. Specifically, they warn me when to stop sharing too much information.
As a result, they’ve made me feel good about how I use social media now—to talk about my charity work or other problems that are meaningful to me. Instead of soliciting parenting advice from the general public, I am looking for ideas for posts that would be appropriate for social media (like my next beach read).
What matters to them and our family is kept in residence. As a result of my new restrictions, I believe I’ve found a more healthy relationship with social media. I removed the apps off my phone, established time limits, and began a dialogue with my children about their online habits. It turns out that they don’t give it a second glance. My son deactivated his school-related Twitter account. In the year since she stopped using Instagram, my daughter hasn’t posted anything. I’ve learned a lot.
When my son was accepted to his first choice high school, he gave me a 24-hour permission to boast about it on Facebook. My kids do give me a little leeway sometimes. After the allotted time had passed, I went ahead and removed the post from the site. He believed that I was listening and that my want to communicate was within his scope of acceptable behavior. I don’t need my kids’ consent because I am an adult, but I do need them to believe in my abilities. My internet presence will not be affected by this, and I am willing to do so if necessary.