Your daughter’s generation has never known a world without smartphones or social media.
And that can pose problems whether she’s transitioning to middle school, high school or college.
So, today’s final #Back2School post is about helping your daughter safely navigate the potential pitfalls of smartphones and social media, so tech doesn’t take over her life.
And I believe timing is everything.
Know When to Say, “When.”
So when is the “right” time to get your daughter a smartphone and thus expand her access to social media?
While I can’t answer that for you, I strongly suggest holding off as long as possible.
Especially if she’s starting middle school this year.
In fact, I recently learned about an awareness campaign called Wait Until 8th that encourages parents to join together and agree to delay giving their children a smartphone until at least the 8th grade.
Even if you’d rather not follow their specific steps, I still believe it’s worth making your own pledge to “wait until 8th.”
Two more options you may want to consider:
- Say “No” to cell phones altogether.
- Say “No” to smartphones and get her a “dumb” phone instead.
If you’re hesitant about saying “NO” to giving your daughter a cell phone, I get it.
There’s as much pressure on you to give your daughter a phone as there is on your daughter to fit in with her peers by having one.
And a lot of parents cave-in because they don’t want to be the “mean parent” who won’t let their child have a phone.
If that’s you, think of this as an opportunity to teach your daughter how to manage peer pressure by modeling the way for her now.
And if your reason for giving your daughter a phone is a matter of safety/precaution, who says it has to be a “smart” phone?
If you just need to be able to reach her by phone or via text, (and vice versa), a “dumb” one will do.
It’s simply a phone that doesn’t connect to the internet.
The good news is every major carrier sells them so it shouldn’t be difficult to find one for your daughter.
Know What’s App!
So, what if your daughter already has a phone?
Do your research.
Keep up to date with teen smartphone and social media usage because the technology is changing so fast.
What’s considered “hot” today will fizzle out in a year or two. And you can bet there’ll be something new to replace it.
So periodically take a pulse of what your daughter and her peers are up to on social media.
That’s what I did in researching this post.
I ran my own impromptu, non-scientific survey on Instagram with my teen and young-adult followers to learn more about their smartphone and social media usage. (For a scientific study, go here.)
The following are some of my findings:
When asked what their three favorite apps were:
Do you know what your daughter’s favorite apps are?
If not, find out. Then sign-up.
Because according to Common Sense Media, while 86% of teens say they’ve received general advice about online use from their parents, 30% of them say their parents know “little” or “nothing” about the social media apps and sites they use.
You don’t want to be one of those parents, Mom.
So, find out what’s app! And how much time your daughter spends using them.
When I asked teens how many hours a day they spend on social media, here’s what they said:
Four to six hours spent on social media means 4-6 hours taken away from something else.
Like doing school work, spending quality face-to-face time with family and friends, and even sleeping.
That’s valuable time your daughter can’t get back.
So if she’s in middle or high school, set limits on her phone usage.
And if she’s headed to college this year, strongly encourage her to set limits for herself.
The less time your daughter spends on her smartphone and social media, the less likely she is to encounter the potential pitfalls.
Know What’s at Stake
Even teens recognize that smartphone and social media use can be harmful.
When I asked teens in my impromptu Instagram survey if they believe smartphones have a positive or negative impact on teens their age, here’s how they responded:
When asked if social media has a positive or negative impact on teens their age, here’s what they said:
As you can see below, cyberbullying is one of those negative impacts.
But that’s not the only downside to social media.
It’s also been linked to increased anxiety among teens. Particularly for girls.
- They log online only to see that their friends attended parties that they weren’t invited to.
- They feel the need to post positive content or attractive pictures of themselves.
- They tie their self-worth to how many “likes” they get.
And this isn’t just a problem for middle school and high school girls.
Even if your daughter’s starting college this year, chances are she’ll still face pressure to get “likes.”
Or grapple with FOMO (fear of missing out), and unhealthy comparisons to photoshopped/filtered “Insta” celebrities.
Neither of which will help your daughter reach her goals in life.
And that’s why this is an important #Back2School conversation to have with her.
Not sure where to begin?
Check out some of the advice my survey respondents said they would share with teens about smartphones and social media:
“Half of what you see on social media is not real. Don’t think any less of yourself when you see Instagram Models on social media. Also, do not do bad things & post in social media to portray the image of being cool. It isn’t cool. Be yourself & true to yourself. Don’t try to always impress people.”
“Don’t put your whole life on social media. Everything does not have to be shown. Also be careful about who you let follow you and who you conversate with.”
“Use it to educate yourself and stay up to date on what’s going on in the world and in our country. It’s never good to be ignorant on the real world topics instead of make-up tutorials and celebrity gossip (altho that’s interesting too), and get outta your phone and enjoy the world around you-chances are when you’re older it’ll all be changed and you’ll miss out on the beauty this world has to offer.”
What they said! Smartphones and social media aren’t inherently “bad” for your daughter.
She just needs to know how to use them safely and responsibly no matter what transitional year she’s entering at school.
Plus you need to know what’s going on in your daughter’s real AND virtual life.
So, encourage her to come to you whenever she feels overwhelmed by either.
And that concludes my 2018 #Back2School series–”The Transitional Years.”
What is the biggest adjustment for your daughter as she transitions to either middle school, high school or college?
And what have you said or done to help her through the transition?
Just remember, the important thing is that you engage your daughter in open and honest dialogue about things that are going on in her world at school.
It’s been my pleasure to start these conversations together. 🙂