Have you ever thought about how you’re using social media? As a consumer, contributor, or parent?
Personally, I enjoy coming up with clever captions for posts. On occasion, I share photos with (and of) family members. This gives my Michigan mom a window into our world out west. Oftentimes, the pictures remind her of places we visited together before she was wheelchair bound.
Photos & Views
Travel photos are similar to storybooks because they offer insight into far-away footage. Hey, have you seen the show Somebody Feed Phil? You don’t even need a passport to (vicariously) experience his tasty adventures!
At its best, social media allows us to see each other, to acknowledge one another, to express recognition, to show support and interest, to reciprocate a salute, and to communicate sentiments such as, “I’m happy for you” or “I’m proud of you.” Namaste.
I like celebrating people’s milestones, accomplishments, renewed health, life lessons, and proud parental moments. This feels good: to give and get likes.
Although, we shouldn’t let a lack of likes lead to insecurity (which is honestly easier typed than adopted). I’ll admit: I’ve wondered why people didn’t seem to engage with a particular post (especially if the same sentiment was pretty popular on another platform). However, I have to ask: was my ad an application for acceptance and approval or just something I wanted to share? Does it matter how the post performs or who appears to notice it?
Social media marketers call this activity “creating content,” which I interpret as circulating images and ideas. I know the practice is necessary for networking, business, and the nature of advertising these daze. Hence, paid ads come with transactional receipts, indicating impressions.
As an author (who wrote a novel about tech’s influence), I maintain personal (private) and professional (public) profiles. And as a parent, I don’t post many pics of kids on my public accounts due to privacy concerns. We moms can model restraint. For instance, I don’t subscribe to every platform. Since I try to be a good correspondent, I only stretch myself so far into cyberspace.
Plus, when I post something, I usually contemplate the point. I typically pause to ask myself: is this meant to be promotional, and if so, what am I encouraging? Is it grounded within my values as a Michi-fornian mom, fire-wife, teacher, dancer, writer, and reader? Am I raising money or awareness for worthy causes or events? Am I posting from the perspective of a veteran, relative, community member, or friend?
Examining our intentions adds meaning to our messages.
Even if we can’t totally relate to someone’s experience (due to age, ability, resources, or region), we can try to appreciate their efforts (given the time and energy to log on).
Generally speaking, individuals can find common ground across themes, such as: mutual interests, mental health, physical wellbeing, struggles, resilience, inspiration, peace, inclusivity, gratitude, creativity, cooking, seasons, traditions, love, humor, joy, and nature.
A longtime friend and I have curiously discussed these considerations at length. We grew up before cell phones and thus watched interactions change from a sociological standpoint.
Changes in Society
Undoubtedly, electronic devices are affecting how we all think and behave. For example, beliefs and opinions used to be kept private. And before social media, it was impolite to talk about politics in certain company.
Therefore, I have a humble and respectful request: please don’t deliberately attempt to cause anger, sadness, or exclusion. Also, be sure to have conversations about cyberbullying with your youngsters. This bid comes from someone who has read research on the subject.
Current studies show that sleep loss, anxiety, depression, impatience, body image issues, and a sense of self-worth can be affected by excessive screen use, due to distraction, dependence, and addiction. On average, people in the U.S. check their phones about 80 times a day. And that stat’s from an older study! Thankfully, digital wellness is a hot topic, and I recommend resources in my realistic and romantic novel Despite the Buzz.
Social Media & Kids
Since this is a mom collective, I specifically want to mention these helpful sites: Screenagers, Common Sense Media, and Wait Until 8th. Based on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, it’s illegal to collect personal data on people under 13 (without parental permission), so, by law, users of most social media sites are supposed to be at least 13 years old.
Your tech-hungry kids will become smartphone savvy soon enough! My son’s in 7th grade, and I signed a pledge to delay getting him a device. To each household its own rules, though. Best wishes managing your children’s screen-time, mamas!
RELATED TOPIC: Conversations About Tech Use to Avoid Conflict
Simply put, social media serves as a modern-day memory archive. It reminds us of birthdays and informs us of happenings. Plus, it can connect people. Potentially. But beware, show-show media also lends itself to an attention economy, so proceed with caution.
Sometimes, it’s easy to make assumptions or take on a “must be nice” attitude toward others. Envious reactions can interfere with reception. But we all know (and should try to remember) that good pictures posted on sunny days do not tend to tell the whole roller-coaster story of someone’s personal path. Besides, we could needlessly judge and compare each other for countless appraisals when it comes to appearance, time, occupation, or station.