Four Ways to Monitor Teens’ Social Media Time plus a New Gold Standard Mindset
It is conventional wisdom that Steve Jobs put a ‘dent in the universe’. No, he didn’t … People who get up every morning, get their kids dressed, get them to school and who have an irrational passion for their kids well being, dent the universe. The world needs more homes with engaged parents, not a better f•ckin phone. Scott Galloway ‘the four’
There is general agreement that many parents share a cacophony of common headaches and heartaches about the behavior of their teens on social media, especially daughters. What happened to my child’s pleasant-mannered upbringing? What if, my daughter doesn’t want to talk any more but closets herself surrounded by other selfies for hours at a time?
With more and more research, cognitive scientists and psychologists also worry about social media, Selfie infatuation and text messages that have become so integral to teenage life as to promote anxiety, lower self-esteem and increase feelings of depression, anxiety, body image and loneliness. For young teens looking for their self-identity, it’s surprisingly easy to feel lonely in the middle of all that hyper-connection.
Adolescence is a transition time to challenge possibilities, take risks, physically mature and confirm to their group standards or be ostracized. Peer acceptance is a big thing especially when trying to project an idealized image in an uninhibited online atmosphere. Pressure to impress on the world view is unprecedented. Kids gang up on each other, many times as cyber trolls.
However, teenagers are still developing their individual and social consciousness and their experiences can have long term consequences. How can we prevent a tragedy of a teen girl who makes a bad choice that can affect her potential for a lifetime? What kind of solution is personal and more permanent even beyond parental involvement?
It’s important parents maintain the parent-child relationship, the earlier the better, before the social protagonist takes hold. Why not delay the age of first cellphone as much as possible? At least, at the beginning, explain as a best friend you can best monitor online sites like Instagram or Facebook.
Here are 4 ways for parents to help minimize risk for teenagers’ navigation on social media:
ONE: Be a good role model yourself
Set a balanced example of healthy use of technology. Stop checking your email or cellphone at every peep. Organize set times in the house for technology-free zones for certain periods of time when everyone participates . Make time for full attention at breakfast and time in the evening to ask about their days and make a reality check. Always keep the parent-child dialogue open and be available to secure any questions before the internet has answers, inappropriate as some may be.
TWO: Ask your teenager to keep track of their time
Encourage the use a weekly or monthly calendar to track and update activities. It’s a real place to set personal goals, action plans and note achievements. As well, an online daily planner can keep track of assignments to be responsible for getting work done. Be sure the teen keeps the routine without constant reminders or needing to nag. Understand rights require responsibilities.
Of course, trying to tell teenagers what to do, doesn’t always work well and may question their ability to “grow up” on their terms. But you can talk about why it is important to create a schedule with a list of priorities to use time wisely. Make specific times for video games or social media as well as for chores, homework and other responsibilities, including time for fun, too. Make a chart with Big Monthly Tasks and break down into smaller ones.
THREE: Talk about how to resolve conflicts in time management
Most teens have hectic schedules with family, school and community activities. Discuss the value of commitments. Both sides can claim each has valid points so compromise means taking turns. Is a movie date more important than a family dinner? Three nights dinner, one night movie, for example.
Set parental rules about your expectations as part of the teen’s list of priorities. Clarify that good rules will help to create healthy habits when they are adults. Don’t punish but reward better cell phone usage.
As teens grow older it’s important to give them the benefit of the doubt and trust their online presence as more positive and encourage sharing their messages, if they wish. Spying on their cellphones will damage the relationship if they think that parents don’t trust or support them.
Of course, taking the cell phone away is like an amputation to a living social being which can create more angst, frustration or depression. Not only can limits be set on electronics, but rewards earned if abstinence is maintained for an agreed time. No cell phone on the weekend earns an extra allowance, for example.
FOUR: Make their OFFLINE time significant
Strive to get teens involved in something they’re interested in offline. It could be sports, music, acting, mechanics, community volunteering and other activities that will give them confidence and build a healthy self-esteem. Most importantly, they interact with their peer group face-to-face, doing and learning what they can do, instead of how they look.
As you can see, for both parents and teenagers, with so much digital competition, specific time management is essential. A personal framework must be set up to plan, set goals with action plans, to list priorities, note achievements and avoid procrastination.
Bottom line: Nobody wants high levels of stress trying to cope with information overload or to be a lifelong procrastinator. Who willingly says at the break of day, “Well, today my plan is to waste a lot of time because time doesn’t matter and the internet doesn’t care?”
Perhaps it’s time for something different. What about setting a new Gold Standard Mindset that may make it easier for teens to evaluate their objectives on Social Media to waste time or not to waste time.
First, they need to understand the concept that time is your most valuable resource … you can only play it forward inside a circle of Today, and once it turns into a block called Yesterday, it can’t be replayed. However, the blocks from the Past are the foundation for the Present which lead into the Future.
The strange paradox of time, even in its infinity, is that it can only be managed in a very small-time frame called today and today can be sparked by a tinier matter of choice.
But how can you explain this to a young teenager, especially a girl? How can she answer the question: What if you had the power to see the future and how your actions today may affect tomorrow? Would you make the same choice?
However, as an educator, I think more is needed beyond open communication and time management skills. Teenagers need to develop a stronger mindset that their own time is as valuable, if not more valuable, than screen time playing in someone else’s reality. Their solution is personal, meaningful and more permanent.
The challenge is how teens can understand a natural learning curve by spending more time on celebrating their timeline as an essential long-term value. Is it possible to believe with practice that this personal gold standard mindset might be the right solution or antidote to help counter this teen cell phone addiction?
What if, it is possible to create a strong, undeniable mindset that my OFFLINE personal time is as important, if not more important, than my ONLINE time scrolling and moiling on Social Media?
What an interesting teaching challenge to design a learning process and lesson plans to develop this Gold Standard Mindset for teenagers to believe and respect their timeline, the sooner the better. Who is ready to step up, the sooner the better?
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Excerpts from Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand:
“In fact, let me take a step back. People have a limit of 24 hours a day. We assume that the noise in our head is in the head of other people like us. But there has never been a society which is so overloaded with noises, sights, and egos through the use of Smart phones and the internet.
So, we think what others want us to think; make quick choices others want us to make, which turn into habits at the end controlled by others. And habits, like well used runways, in the brain, are the hardest chains to break once built. Like I read once, we become carbon copies of present culture. The younger ones are the most vulnerable trying to copy in the wink of an eye.
Remember a choice is not a decision. It is only the spark that begins a decision through multiple steps which may result in forming habits, but that is another discussion.”