A parent recently approached me about helping her middle school child navigate the muddy waters of social media. I was delighted to do so, and it got me thinking about how many parents I know who feel like they are in a death match with social media and video games, a fight over their children’s humanity. What lessons are they learning from anonymous people online? How are they interpreting and internalizing violent video games? What if they turn out to be violent weirdos? Or worse, they don’t get into college??
It is a dark time to be a parent, my friends. It’s dark that is, until you begin redefine your relationship social media and video games. When we lean in and come from a mindset of curiosity, we create connection with our young ones. Yes, video games might seem droll and gratuitous to us, but they are dynamic and very real for kids. It’s time that we honored that.
Asking open-ended questions and being honest about our lack of understanding will create an opening for your child to explain something to you. They are the authority on this, and it’s your turn to be the student. You may choose to play with them, or simply watch and learn. Creating a connection around this time can lead to your child feeling respected and understood, and can actually tip the balance of “digital power” back to neutral.
As for social media, it goes without saying that there’s no way to avoid it. This is the world our kids live in, and resistance is futile. So how do we reconcile our innate (adult) desire for privacy with children’s desire to connect online? We get online, of course. Meet them where they are, with compassion and a desire to connect. They will think we’re lame and complain about the fact that Aunt Judy likes all of their posts, but the subtle message is that the adults in their lives care enough to be involved. And we’re watching.
Consider it the modern equivalent to your mother looking out the kitchen window and watching you dangle by one leg from that huge tree in the backyard, while your brother throws clods of dirt at you. You might get scuffed up, but you’ll be fine. She knew it, you knew it, and now you know that you should never be a willing target for your brother’s curveball.
So what now? Will you wade into the waters of social media and video games with your child? If so, how do you feel about it? Comment below; I’d love to get your perspective!
These thoughts and ramblings were inspired by an article that was written much better than mine; please check it out and read in full. It’s terrific and worth the read. https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/52899/forget-screen-time-rules-lean-in-to-parenting-your-wired-child-author-says