In a recent interview with the Big Sister Experience, we drilled down on one of everyone’s biggest anxiety triggers. That is, social media. What comes with it? A whole lot of anxiety, that’s for sure. But it can also be a good thing if you use it wisely.
The trouble with social media is it inherently invokes the need to compare. With your daughter continually comparing herself to the likes of models, celebrities and even just other teens, social media can quickly become a nasty and negative space. But it doesn’t have to be.
Opening up those lines of communication with your daughter are so important. Go through Instagram together and talk about what a positive account looks like and how it makes you feel.
SETTING THEM UP FOR SUCCESS
Perhaps look at an account that’s very curated. Ask the questions: do you think this is reality? Is it just a fragment of this person's life? How do we feel when we compare ourselves? Why do we compare ourselves? That's a really important conversation to have early on with your daughter when she’s new to Instagram.
We want our girls to have a really healthy social media feed. You're in control of your feed. You can unfollow, block, and choose which people you accept friendship requests or DM’s from. We want to give girls the confidence to say, "No, this is an extension of my bubble and I'm only going to let things in my bubble that make me feel good.
It’s also important to have the safety conversation too. Not to scare them, but so that they understand that there are a lot of fake profiles and people that you don't want to be friends with on Instagram. “We advise girls to keep their accounts private and if you can't ask that person in real life if that's their profile, you shouldn't be accepting them”.
There's a feature on Instagram called Mute. You and I would still be following each other, for example, but I've muted you so I won't see any of your posts or any of your stories but if you check, I'm still following you. And it's really great because they're not notified about it. Because we know kids can be, "Oh, why did you unfollow me?"
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Sadly, we’re seeing a trend of girls posting selfies in the bathroom mirror in their underwear. This should be the start of a broader conversation around why she feels the need to do that? What is she possibly craving that she's not getting? Is it attention, is it love?
Where could this photo end up and what impact could it have on her in the future? In having these discussions, you're not saying, don't ever do that but you're making girls aware of the potential repercussions.
The section of their brain that's decision making and rational thinking isn't fully developed yet. So, when we work with girls, we don't say, "No, don't do that." We say, "This could happen or this could happen or this could happen." And they're like, "Oh, I hadn't thought of that."
To not post then becomes their idea because they understand the possible outcomes. So, you give them the worst case scenario. We literally tell stories about girls whose selfies have been spread and this one girl had to move school three times because her nude photos got shared around.
One in three girls these days send a nude or explicit photo. Let's be honest, they may still post it but maybe they don’t show their face or it's not visibly recognizable that it's them so the repercussions are less severe. Opening that discussion of possible consequences for their actions now and in the future is critical.
USING SOCIAL MEDIA IN A POSITIVE WAY
You want social media to inspire you, motivate and drive you but sometimes if it's too far out of reach, it almost has the opposite effect.
We suggest doing a social media detox by unfollowing and/or muting accounts of people that don't make you feel good. And then we suggest positive accounts to follow that we find really inspiring (we've suggested a few below). It's finding a happy medium.
Social media doesn’t need to be scary. Use these tips from The Big Sister Experience to help your daughter navigate social media and use it as a positive in her life.