Technology is great, isn’t it? We can scroll through Facebook and see what our family and friends are doing. We can start a conversation on our desktop and continue on our phone in the woods while we mushroom hunt. Then we can send a picture when we find the biggest one. Technology can help us learn and help keep us entertained.
But can too much technology be a bad thing?
Parents are trying to maintain a respectful distance and still keep an eye on their kids’ interactions and relationships, contending with Snapchat, Face-time, Facebook, Skype, texting and endless selfies. A teen or tween can base their entire reputation on their online social life, wanting to look as good as or better than the images they see.
Even games and movies are filled with unrealistic images of sleek men and women, with size 2 avatars and beautiful, slim princesses dancing with barrel-chested princes. A steady diet can skew a child’s reality of how “normal” people look.
Communication is instantaneous. Impulsive senders often get feedback they do not like. Self-esteem falls prey to how many “likes” they get. With sexting, a moment’s weakness can turn into a lifelong shadow of regret. Pictures can instantly fall into the wrong hands and can cause immediate as well as lasting consequences. What once could be forgotten by a few is there eternally for the masses.
And this is certainly not something that is going away. With technology becoming more and more advanced, it’s important to steer our children as best we can. We can let it consume them and get them in trouble, or we can take advantage of the opportunity and help them grow positively.
Believe it or not, there are a variety of activities that can be done on social media that can help teens experience personal growth and develop healthy self-esteem. Social media and the Internet can encourage teens and tweens to delve into their interests, learn about people with varied backgrounds and participate in charitable projects and political events.
Technology can be a great learning tool. We can encourage our kids to turn the camera around to more adventure seeking activities. It’s important that kids know how much beauty they are a part of and the exciting ventures they can accomplish, instead of worrying about the latest fashion or their own body image.
We can show kids how to capture scenery or events; how to write about what they have seen and how to transfer between gadgets. Instead of just limiting our kids to exposure of the media, we can help our kids educate themselves and enjoy the ride with technology such as Go Pro, which shows action as the person sees it in real time. When they are perusing the internet, videos such as on YouTube can encourage kids to spread their wings, whether it’s air-gliding in Germany, jumping puddles in Palau or big wave surfing in Manele Bay Lanai.
The Internet gives us the privilege of seeing beyond our own culture. It gives us the possibilities of adventure and education. We can learn about other people, other lands and the mysteries of nature, encouraging our children to look beyond their immediate environment and expand their horizons. If kids can learn to focus on something other than the material image being portrayed online, maybe a perfect body image will be the last thing on their mind.
Related Article: Social Media and Distorted Teen Body Image