Just so you know, this is not an excuse to bash social media. I love it. I don’t understand how to use all of it, and it’s hard to find time to use it effectively, but, overall, I love it. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, can we talk about how it’s affected our interactions with others: for the good and the bad? In favor of the Snap, IG, and even Facebook, I’ve realized that it can help us to meet other people across the world that we might never have met or introduce us to various opportunities we wouldn’t have been aware of without it. Buuut, in opposition, it has also changeed the way we interact with people by releasing an entirely new set of insecurities that we have never experienced before. I’ve had multiple conversations with tweens and teens who have gotten frustrated with those friends who vocalize their opinions freely in their DMs, but fail to even say hi when they see them in person. On the flip side, rifts are caused between close friends who choose to ignore one another on social media as silent questions float between the two that inspire even more insecurity.
Let’s face it. Social media has changed our world. For. Ever. Still, there are a few activities that we need to make sure we take along with us in the future, regardless of whuat outhuer progressions we make. One of those is networking. I love to network (when I balance it with some good old “me” time), and it has helped me in so many ways I can’t begin to detail them all. I’ve noticed that our kiddos don’t know how to do the same though. The more they use social media, the less they initiate conversation, apart from their phones. It’s crazy important that they understand how to hold a conversation with someone and maintain the connection afterward so how can we help? Try the following steps and tell me what you think:
Model healthy interactions with them by taking time away from your own devices to hold a conversation. It might be tough at first. You might get quite a few one word answers, but don’t be afraid to invite them in to the process. Share that you’re not only genuinely intersted in them, but you’re also interested in showing them how to connect with others in the same way.
Sign them up for activities that they have to participate in conversations with others. Church youth groups, drama club, sports teams, and book clubs are fun and creative ways to do this. Don’t assume that they’re interacting with others during their school day because they may not be. Ensure that there is someone wise helping to facilitate the interactions.
Take them to conferences, retreats, and camps during the summer so they’re not holed up in their room for weeks on end. These activities are going to provide a great way for them to meet people who they may not see on a regular basis. It will reinforce the importance of stepping out of their comfort zones to talk to others they may never have met and show them how to use their social media and email to maintain the connections, long after they’ve gone.
When I got to college, I was terrified of making new friends because of the limited experiences I’d had in high school. I relied on my relationship with my roommate (who I’d met in high school) to help me navigate freshman year, and when she left, I’m going to admit that I felt lost. Meanwhile, other students had created lifelong bonds with new people based on the common experiences they’d all gained freshman year, and I always felt a little left out when they began to talk about the fun they’d had earlier on. Ensure that your child is set up for success by showing him or her how social media and reality complement one another, and be intentional about it. Don’t forget to join me at Unconditional: Las Vegas Saturday, June 30. It will be a great place to reinforce so many of these principals (and yes, that was a shameless plug)! Talk back to me…what about this stood out to you?