FACEBOOK SNAPCHAT INSTAGRAM TWITTER
These words which are such an important part of our daily lives were seemingly insignificant just about 5 years ago. Today everyone has a profile on one or more of these sites. Social media has completely redefined the way we socialize. The older generation is getting active on these sites to catch up with the times and the younger generation is making sure that their kids are not left behind in this race.
Parents are setting up Instagram accounts for their toddlers – some of these have a huge following. Children as little as 4 have their FB profiles made (thanks to their parents)
What is the legacy we are building for our children when we push them to BE SOCIAL on social media?
Ideally, social media sites help one to be connected with people in their lives (and also people in our distant cousin’s life!) Distance doesn’t come in the way of people being in touch with their family, friends etc. However here lies the biggest pitfall of the social media sites. This ‘showcasing’ of our lives has given rise to a world of pretentions.
Picnics, theme parties, destination weddings, exotic vacations are all planned and executed so that everything can be clicked, captured and uploaded for the world to see and discern how beautifully ‘perfect’ and ‘fun’ our lives are.
Our children are living with the same ‘Social Media Syndrome’. Approximate time that an average Indian teenager spends on these sites is about 5 hours daily. The birthday parties, theater outings to the outfits they wear – so many choices are governed by the fact that they have to be broadcasted on social media sites. The mindless activity where so many innumerable hours are spent on various such sites – scrolling through what is happening in the lives of others and analyzing how well their lives are perceived within their peer world – brings unnecessary stress into the lives of our children.
The child starts deriving his sense of self worth, self esteem from the popularity of his ‘posts’ on FB, Instagram accounts. Our children are thus inheriting a culture of narcissism and voyeurism.
As parents, they see us clicking pictures not to make memories but to translate it posts which could be broadcasted to our social accounts. They imbibe the ‘showcasing’ as a way of life. I know 3 year olds who make perfect selfie pouts and know all about the apps that can ‘airbrush ‘your pictures. Children would struggle with geometry but would be perfect in clicking picture from certain ‘angles’ – which would give them a slim, hip look in the photo. All this is propagating a certain body image consciousness and brings about its own level of peer pressure.
I am not saying to refrain from using social media. But children learn what they see. Let our activities on social media be a very little part of our daily routine. Let our lives, our self esteem be not governed by these sites.
Let us actively participate in the lives of our children with live games in the park, a walk down the hill exploring nature together, cooking with each other. Let’s fill the memory banks of our children with enriching experiences and not frugal ‘posts’.