I hear story after story of how teens with a lack of social media self control are suffering in both their in person relationships and in their career path.
We all know that teens love connecting socially. And with social media such a prevalent aspect of teen culture, sharing on Facebook or Instagram is something they’re used to doing throughout the day.
But clearly, a teen’s lack of social media self control not only affects a teen’s ability to build in person relationships but to stay focused on other important tasks such as a job.
How can we help our teens and tweens develop healthy social media self control?
While teaching teens healthy social media habits is an ongoing conversation, here are five social media management skills we can share with our kids in order to help them successfully balance their online and in person lives.
Why Social Media Self Control Is Critical for Teens (Melanie’s Story)
I recently met Melanie, a college graduate who after ten months of job searching, still has not found a career “match.”
When I asked her about her job hunt and if she had ever had a full-time job, she shared her story.
Melanie landed her first job the summer following graduation and was excited to utilize her skill set and prove herself in the workplace.
But, unfortunately, Melanie’s lack of social intelligence (and lack of social media habits) trumped her proficiencies. She brought her cell phone to orientation and kept checking incoming text messages during her training, which aggravated her manager. When she was late getting a project done and was criticized, she responded defensively via email. And during the course of any given day, she was checking Facebook to catch up with friends.
When team members began growing distant, her supervisor met with her and asked if she had any idea why. She did not. After three months of similar conversations with her supervisor, she was finally let go.
This story, which we were given permission to share, is similar to many other students’ I meet across the country.
I believe we, as parents, must not only seize the opportunity to help our young students develop social media self control, but encourage them in how to develop healthy in person relationships. These skills are necessary for the workplace and in real life.
5 Ways to Help Teens Develop Healthy Social Media Habits and Build In-Person Relationships
1. Balance tech-time with touch-time. Encourage your kids to spend the same amount of hours with people (face-to-face) as they do in front of a screen. When we made this agreement in our family, the result was the cultivation of interpersonal skills and the ability to read facial and body language.
2. For each Instagram or Facebook group joined, have them throw a party and host it. Reinforce the importance of real conversations and making human connections. This enables students to take initiative with people and learn how to truly serve others. With my kids, I even went as far as to have them host the parties we as parents planned. I had them greet guests, take their coat, offer something to drink, and ask how their day was.
3. For every person “unfriended” on social media, talk about successfully resolving conflicts. We live in a disposable world where it’s easier to avoid problems than face them – easier to make new friends than stick it out through conflicts with existing friends. It’s important to teach kids to never end a close relationship via technology. That’s cowardice.
4. Demonstrate when present with people, it’s important to make them a priority over the ones on your phone. With the exception of replying to an important message, when you check your portable device, you communicate to those around you that there are other people more important than them.
5. Cultivate relationships with different generations. In today’s world, the younger generation mainly interacts with their peers. But to successfully mature, it’s crucial to practice interacting with and forming relationships with those of different generations. For a year, I coordinated meetings with mentors for my two kids, so that other adults could speak wisdom into their life. Another idea – encourage volunteer opportunities at retirement homes and preschools. We must help enlarge their horizons by connecting them with people from older and younger age groups.
Other Character Traits Teens Learn from Healthy Social Media Boundaries
How else can teens benefit when they learn social media self control and developing healthy online boundaries? What other character traits are strengthened in a teen’s life when they choose to put down the cell phone and to develop in-person relationships?
Here are a few:
It is in waiting that I build patience.
It is in face-to-face collaboration that I build interpersonal skills.
It is in attempting risky ventures that I build courage.
It is in struggling that I build perseverance.
It is in boredom that I have margins to imagine and think creatively.
Other Articles on Teens
Additional Resources on Raising Teens
Does your teen need help in creating healthy social media boundaries or in developing in person relationship skills? What conversations does your family have regarding this issue?