Advertising

What Kids Really Think About Social Media

Advertising
What Kids Really Think About Social Media

Since the dawn of mankind, humans have mused over the idea of immortality. Through technology and social media we have to some extent achieved this quest through our ability to capture every moment of our existence and immortalize it in a digital world. The digital landscape and social media has become part of our everyday lives. One stats site shows that as of the third quarter of 2015, Facebook had 1.55 billion monthly active users, Twitter had 307 million, and Instagram 400 million. While there are many studies, articles and expert opinions about social media and it’s impact on our daily lives, sometimes it is the perspectives of the most uninhibited, straight-talking members of the human race that gives us the most refreshing insights. So what do kids really think about social media? We round up quotes from children from toddler to teens from various interviews across the web:

“Being social without being social”

This is probably the most profound answer one tween gave when he was asked what he thought social media was. While it does provide us a way to connect and share with people we don’t necessarily have time to engage with face-to-face on a daily basis, the reality is that these connections are very superficial. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the simple definition of social is:

Advertising

“relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other”

On social media we don’t talk to each other, we talk at each other, and instead of doing enjoyable things with each other, we post about the enjoyable things we are doing in the presence of others. Rather than enjoying the moment, we are constantly fretting about capturing the moment to share on social media. As one kid put it, “Adults usually post pictures and stuff and see what others are doing”.

Advertising

“It’s more of a distraction”

using a smartphone while walking

    We fool ourselves into thinking that we are multi-tasking, when in truth social media distracts us from what is happening in real time. According to one report, the average American spends an average of 3+ hours per day on social networks. That is a significant amount of time when you factor in hours spent at work or school, hours for sleep, and for self-care activities. From a kids perspective, social media may be distracting parents from having meaningful conversations with their kids, or giving their kids undivided attention when being shown the latest art creation.

    Advertising

    “It’s some filtered/altered/handpicked highlight”

    This is how one 13-year-old described his understanding of social media. We use these networks to portray snippets of our daily lives and we think we are keeping up to date with what is happening in others’ lives. But these snapshots can never convey the true essence of someone’s life. In the end, what we choose to share is a post-production edited version of our lives. Many parents, myself included, post pictures of our kids on social media, but what do the kids think of this. When asked, “What do you think when your parents share pictures of you on Facebook?”, the young boy replied, “That’s creepy”.

    “It’s kinda the way to find stuff out”

    In the digital age, news agency are no longer the source of breaking news. Often, we hear about major events in our community or even the world via social media before the age old news broadcasters. But we also learn about the more mundane stuff, like the fact that your friend from kindergarten who you haven’t seen in 20 years had bran for breakfast this morning. As one little boy asked in an interview with comedian Mark Malkoff, “Why does, my mum take pictures of her breakfast and put them on Facebook?”, while another little boy notes, “People write about all their personal business”.

    Advertising

    “Do you really have 3000 friends?”

    One study suggests that social media is affecting our concepts of friendship and intimacy, because of the sense of community we experience in the virtual world even though it is void of personal contact and interaction. When the comedian Mark shows his Facebook profile to one of the kids he asks, “Do you really have 3000 friends?”, and when Mark says yes the boy shouts out, “Liar!”. While humorous it really reflects reality. The average Facebook user has about 300 ‘friends’, but are these really friends? Do we really need to be sharing so much of our lives with so many people at once? As one teenager aptly put it, it’s more “like an awkward family dinner we can’t really leave”.  In support of the study, one 11-year-old boy said about social media, “When I grow up I want to be friends with everyone on Facebook”.

    Responsible use

    I am not trying to demonize social media, because, well frankly, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. This is more of a refection on the realities of social media use and that perhaps we need to be more cognizant of our social media-life balance. I propose that we just try to be more mindful of the time we spend on social media and how we are experiencing our daily lives, and just have fun with it. And we don’t recommend you follow the advice of one toddler who, when Mark asked him what he thought Mark should post on Facebook exclaimed, “Your butt!”. Let the motto: EXPERIENCE NOW, SHARE LATER be your guide. If you are finding it particularly hard to be ‘unplugged’ you can read this great post by fellow Lifehack writer on managing social media addiction.

    Advertising

    More by this author

    people on phones What Kids Really Think About Social Media The Truths Of Depression Explained In Comics That Everyone Should Read hug someone who is grieving to comfort them 10 Things You Should Not Say To A Grieving Person

    Trending in Child Behavior

    1 5 Tips For Teaching Money Management To Children 2 7 Effective Tips for Your Child’s Positive Growth 3 When Should Your Teenager Start Dating? 4 Ten Things To Remember If You Have A Child With ADHD 5 Four Tips to Building Your Child’s Confidence

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on October 7, 2021

    Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

    Advertising
    Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

    In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

    Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

    There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

    Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

    Let’s get started, shall we?

    Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

    Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

    1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

    When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

    Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

    Advertising

    “Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

    2. Teaches the Value of Family

    Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

    According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

    3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

    Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

    “Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

    For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

    4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

    How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

    “If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

    5. Creates a Safe Environment

    If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

    Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

    6. Reduces Stress

    This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

    According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

    So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

    How to Make Family Time Happen

    Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

    1. Family Dinners

    This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

    Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

    Advertising

    “Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

    According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

    As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

    2.  Regular Movie Nights

    This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

    Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

    3. Game Night

    This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

    In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

    So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

    Advertising

    4. Sharing a Hobby

    If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

    Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

    Final Thoughts

    Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

    Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

    The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

    Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

    Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
    [2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
    [3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
    [4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
    [5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
    [6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
    [7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
    [8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
    [9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
    [10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

    Read Next