Regular readers will know that Mostly Mum has a pre-teen and most of you will also already know, from your own experience, that parenting a pre-teen is not without its challenges in normal circumstances – coming of age, puberty, friends, exams… It’s all a bit of a minefield!
However, parents of pre-teens in 2018 have an added pressure… social media. Social media is a rather tricky beast as it is such a new phenomenon that many of us adults (hands up here!) are only just about managing to keep up with it ourselves (and all the pressures, as well as the advantages, that it brings)!
In spite of my rather ripe old age of… ahem…cough… forty-one… 😳, I do like to keep up with popular culture and all things ‘trendy’. Since the advent of social media from around 2005/2006 (with Facebook and Twitter) or even before then (Stardoll, MySpace, anyone?!), I have been a social media follower, especially in terms of the celebrity world.
However, it has to be said that my old involvement has been more passive than active as the ‘popularity contest’ side of it has always been something that would have been a source of anxiety for me. How many likes for a post? How many friends etc? It’s always just seemed like more stress than I needed in my adult life and so I resisted the pressure to properly ‘play the social media game’.
Up until now… that is!
You see, I wanted to get some semblance of a career back on track and nowadays, careers are, more often than not, forged and developed with the help of social media (oh, how life has changed in just over a decade!). And since my career is now this blog, I absolutely must have an online presence in order to have even a whiff of a chance of success.
So with a heavy heart, feet (and fingers) I have properly launched myself online over the last month or so and while for the most part, it has been a much more positive experience than anticipated, there are definite added stressors to my life right now.
Keeping on top of various accounts – updates, answering messages, looking for ways to add new followers etc – is practically a job in itself and not always a fun one!
Then, for a natural introvert like myself, there is the added pressure and anxiety of having to ‘put yourself out there’, the need to approach people in order to get ‘likes’, ‘friends’ and ‘followers’, the crushing, overwhelming anxiety of possible rejection and failure.
Already, in the space of only a few weeks, I have been ‘ghosted’ (my messages gone unanswered 😳 by some of the old friends and acquaintances I’ve reached out to) more times than I’d like to remember. And then there is the follow/unfollow approach of some social media users….
Even for a relatively together mature (well, mostly) adult who likes to think she’s been around long enough to know what really matters in life, such ‘rejections’ sting… a lot.
No matter how many times I repeat the ‘it’s not you, it’s them’ mantra, I can’t help but second-guess myself…
‘Are they just really busy or are they ignoring me? Have I done something to upset them? What could that have been? Do they really not like me? Did they even ever like me? Am I just UNLIKEABLE?’
The inner dialogue is a slippery slope and interminable… It takes a lot of emotional energy, especially on one of the bad days when a post doesn’t get the desired reaction.
And then, on the flip side there are highs… But, it has to be said, the rollercoaster effect is constant!
So, if this is the reaction of an apparently together adult, who frankly has more pressing concerns in life, how does a pre-pubescent child react when faced with similar pressures?
As far as I am concerned, the negative side of social media very much outweighs the positive where young emotionally immature children are involved.
Therefore, imagine my horror when I learn just last week that a lot of my 10-year-old daughter’s peers are already under the spell of a ‘super dooper’ new social media app called Musical.ly.
Musical.ly is, to all intents and purposes, a karaoke version of Snapchat, where users can share short videos (dance or lip-syncing usually) with other users.
While this originally Chinese app is proving a hit among the pre-teen age group, as they think it’s fun to make up their own music videos and make new friends, it is not without its dangers in that it is yet another outlet for cyber bullying, age inappropriate content and harassment from undisclosed adult sources. There is also the issue that, despite being recommended for users of age 13 (still too low, in my opinion!) and above, much younger users, like my daughter’s peers, are getting involved.
Where my daughter is concerned, luckily, she doesn’t seem too bothered about the social media hype her friends are already getting entangled in. We haven’t given her access to a fully functioning smart phone (despite a mounting tide of peer pressure!) and don’t intend to for the foreseeable future.
Some parents do feel like their Year 6 children need phones to be contactable as they are walking to and from school alone and while this is understandable, do the children really need smart phones with, as yet, unlimited internet access?
As far as I am concerned, giving a child the means to unlimited internet access is much like giving them a loaded gun and hoping they won’t pull the trigger!
And the unfortunate thing is my clamping down on my own child’s access does not even fully protect her as there is nothing to stop her accessing the more dangerous elements of the internet while she is out with friends, even just at school.
This, to me, is an extremely sobering and disconcerting thought. The government seems finally to be waking up to the harm unlimited internet access is doing to our precious children but the question remains, will they do anything concrete about it before it’s too late for the next, still so innocent, generation?
As ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Until next time…
💋 Mostly Mum