Parents And Children - The Difference Between Our Perception And Use Of Social Media

30/05/2017 11:24

There is a never-ending list of how parents and children do things differently. I am reminded of this daily in my own home. Through the generations things always change and evolve and we all move with the times. But for me, one of the most stark differences is the way I use and view social media in comparison to my kids.

The most obvious difference is the ease with which my kids assimilate new social media platforms into their lives and juggle them simultaneously: my son can be snapchatting a mate, whilst messaging his girlfriend and checking out an event on Facebook.

There is a security and comfort of using technology in this way that is alien to me. And whilst I like to think I am pretty adept at using most social media platforms, I have to be much more methodical in my approach and often go through a mental checklist - double, sometimes triple checking before posting or hitting share.

For my kids, it's second nature, because they have grown up with it.

There has been little or sometimes no time needed to actually understand what they are doing or why they are doing it. The beauty of so many skills we learn as children is the skills are often unconsciously just taken it in.

And this is the crux, I feel, of the second main difference: why there is such a difference in perception between parents and children. As I haven't grown up with it - there is a subtle uncertainty or "fear" of the unknown.

We all know the depth and breadth of information found and shared on social networking. And it can be wonderful, but it is a double-edged sword. Search any hashtag you like on Instagram and you'll see. Couple this with the fact that as parents we have a multitude of worries and fears - some rational, some not, associated with protecting our kids - social media in a parent's eyes presents a whole multitude of issues.

On the face of it, it is straightforward for me now. My kids, 18 and 20, are adults and use many different forms of social networking, in tandem.

But this wasn't always the case. Facebook was the beginning of this conversation and was a huge bone of contention. I held out for as long as I could and when I did finally relent, being "friends" with me was non-negotiable.

And for a while I turned into some weird stalker, constantly checking their feeds and obsessing over being vigilant - and quite frankly, there were times when I saw posts I wish I hadn't.

Now though I think I have been de-friended or they have changed their settings so I can't see everything.

It is really easy for me to be sanctimonious about friends' younger children on every social media platform out there. But in fact I have no right.

Children are younger these days with tablets, smartphones and computers and yes, sometimes I am surprised by how young - but age appropriateness is something each individual family has to work out.

I was lucky in terms of how old my kids were when they first wanted smartphones and a Facebook account - which was 14. They didn't get their own laptops till 16.

The biggest question most friends my age ask is why do we have so many social media platforms. And honestly, I have no idea what the answer is. I have some mates who only WhatApp me, while others use Messenger, and a few only direct message me on Twitter...so what is the answer? ...Thinking about it - I don't know if my kids would know either but I will ask them when they both next home.

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