Social media and teens: a conversation about the conversation

Photo by Antonio_Diaz/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Antonio_Diaz/iStock / Getty Images

Summer break is upon us and even though our kids won’t be on campus with their friends every day, they can keep the social scene alive on their favorite social media sites. 

In a CNN Special Report about the network’s study on social media and teens child development experts found some disconnects between what parents think they know about how their kids are feeling and how kids report they are actually feeling. Almost 94% of parents underestimated the amount of fighting that happens over social media and 60% underestimated how lonely, worried and depressed their kids were. Instagram posts of happy selfies present an image that can fool even us. Subtly hurtful comments on Twitter can elude us.

A Common Sense Media study found that "the majority of tweens say their parents know 'a lot' about what they do on social media. "  But, as kids get a little older, that sentiment changes.  In that same study "teens say only about one third  of their parents know 'a lot' about what they do online or what they do on social media."

I believe in really connecting through in-person conversations with our kids and a good dose of quiet listening. Here are some questions to get the whole family started on sharing their experiences, beginning with yours:

  • We always try to start with positives so here's a nice place to start. What’s the good news on Instagram/Snapchat/Twitter this week? Favorite posts or photos? 
  • Are your friends being “real” online lately?
  • How do you feel when friends post good news or fun times that didn’t involve you?
  • Has anything embarrassing or confusing happened online recently?
  • Is there anything you’ve seen online this week that you wish you could un-see?