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What Kids Really Think About Social Media

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:

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“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”.

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“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.

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    “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”.

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    “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.

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    Last Updated on August 22, 2019

    14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

    14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 27% of children under the age of 18 are living with a single parent.[1] That’s over 1/4th of the U.S. population.There is a common misconception that children who grow up in single parent homes are not as successful as children living in two-parent homes.

    One crucial detail that was often left out of studies when comparing single and two-parent homes was the stability of the household. There is a correlation between family structure and family stability, but this study shows that children who grow up in stable single-parent homes do as well as those in married households in terms of academic abilities and behavior.

    But providing stability is easier said than done. With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

    1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

    Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

    Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

    Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

    2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

    At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

    Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice, through Facebook or sites like Single Mom Nation.

    Although single moms make up the majority of single parents, there are more than 2.6 million single dads in the U.S. A great way to connect is through Meetup. Other single parents will more than happy to arrange babysitting swaps, playdates, and carpools.

    Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

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    3. Build a Community

    In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

    Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

    4. Accept Help

    Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

    There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

    5. Get Creative with Childcare

    Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

    If you have space and live in a college town, offer a college student housing in exchange for regular childcare. Or swap kids with other single parents so that your kids have friends to play with while the parents get time to themselves.

    When I was younger, my parents had a group of five family friends, and all of the children would rotate to a different house each day of the week, during the summer months. The kids would have a great time playing with each other, and the parents’ job becomes a lot easier. That’s what you would call a win-win situation.

    6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

    As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

    Look into whether or not your area offers emergency babysitting services or a drop-in daycare. Knowing who will be able to care for your child in the event of an emergency can relieve one potential source of anxiety in stressful situations.

    7. Create a Routine

    Routines are crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

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    If the child travels between homes or has multiple caretakers, life can seem extremely chaotic and unpredictable. Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

    Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

    8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

    If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

    When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

    This article may help you to discipline your child better:

    How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

    9. Stay Positive

    Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

    Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

    Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

    10. Move Past the Guilt

    In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

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    Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

    Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

    11. Answer Questions Honestly

    Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

    Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

    Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

    12. Treat Kids Like Kids

    In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

    There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

    Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

    13. Find Role Models

    Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

    Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

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    Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

    14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

    Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

    Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

    Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

    Final Thoughts

    Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

    However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

    Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

    More Resources About Parenting

    Featured photo credit: Eye for Ebony via unsplash.com

    Reference

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