Picture-perfect food, beaches, boats, vacation photos, selfies… All of these flood social media. They portray
a perfect life – that no one possesses!
The pressure to look and feel perfect is higher than ever
before. Everyone can fake their lives. And shove it in everybody else’s faces. You
know all of this isn’t the real truth. But does your adolescent?
Most Influential: Social Media
There’s your child, scrolling through Instagram, Twitter,
Facebook or any other social media platform. They find numerous accounts and
pictures of people with perfect bodies at perfect places posing perfectly. Celebrities
and influencers getting paid to post picture-perfect content.
But do you compare yourself to these images? Doesn’t it make it easier to see the flaws you have? Young girls and boys are extremely susceptible to this. Phys.org reports “teens who reported posting more pictures on social media, had a heightened awareness of their appearance, which was related to feeling more negative about their body.” The more time a teen spends online, the more likely they are to have a negative body image.
But you and I know the pictures that flood social media are unnatural
in pose and quality. No one has perfect skin or a perfect figure. “Fitspiration”
accounts, designed to promote one fitness expert over another, can influence
adolescences to create unhealthy eating habits and extreme exercise regimes.
Fashion models post about their “everyday” life and young minds tend to wonder
why their life is not like that. The standard that is being held up to your
child is unrealistic. One natural outcome is bad feelings about their body, and
How to Help
There is help out there. Psychologytoday.com offers an acronym to help teach your child about this aspect of the media.
F – Filter out content that makes them feel negative in
A – Avoid letting them spend all their time on social media.
C – Careful of comparing others lives to how their life is
E – Evaluate what the differences are between real and fake
It is important to teach your children that real life is not supposed to look perfect. Real life is beautiful in its own, unique way. It is different for everyone. Being comfortable with the way you look with today’s Internet is hard. However, for your child’s sake, teach them that everyone is perfect in their own way, on both the inside and outside.
School events. Sports. Concerts. Church. Socializing.
Lots to do. It can seem pretty stressful sometimes. You’re
running them around. Maybe you’re feeling you don’t have any real quality time
So, have you considered a family game night?
My Family Game Nights
I grew up in a very rural area. Hardly any neighbors. This meant no other kids
close by I could play with. So my family and I ended up pretty close.
When we weren’t running around for school functions and
sports, we would sometimes have family game night. Turns out, these were my
favorite nights. Dad might teach us how to play poker or other card games.
Maybe we’d break out an old board game like “The Game of Life”. Sometimes we’d
play Wii sports games or Xbox Kinect games. If you don’t know, these are games
where you actually get up off the couch and pretend to play ping pong or throw
a bowling ball. We were very competitive, but playing these games was always
fun. And it created a bond between us that I think will last forever.
Benefits of Family
Others have talked about the benefits of a family game night. This article at Www.cbc.ca talks about family game night can teach good sportsmanship. No one really stays mad at a family for every long, and Mom and Dad are always there to role model how to be a good loser. You also learn how to take turns and follow rules. Sometimes you get to practice an actual skill.
The article also says you can work on your communication
skills, and perhaps even negotiation skills. You should see the wheeling and
dealing we do playing Monopoly. And of, some games require cooperation and
I think all of these are important to learn at a young age.
You’ll use them over and over and family game night was one of the most
enjoyable time I had while building stronger relationships with my family.
Family Game Night
If you’re stuck on what kind of games to play, here’s a brief list from Www.today.com. It includes classic boards games al the way to video games. Some of them are actually quite recent. Some of their picks include:
The Game of Life
What Do You Meme?
I also recommend the “get off the couch” video games that come with PlayStation, Xbox, or Wii. Coommonsensemedia.org has a list of family video games and includes things like “Family Game Night: The Game Show”, “Hidden Folks”, “Trivial Pursuit”, “Wii Sports”, “Disneyland Adventures”, “Just Dance”, “Guitar Hero”, and many more.
Lastly, if you’re looking for more active games, and ones
that you may be able to conjure up from items laying around the house, consider
“Minute To Win It Games”. This was a popular TV show, but now refers to a while
category of games that are fun and can be completed in a minute or less. A
quick Google search can provide you with a list of “Minute To Win It Games”
with instructions and videos. Of course, don’t forget the old classics “Twister”,
“Nerf Gun Battles” and “Legos”.
I think you’ll enjoy family game night. Give a few tries, however. If you haven’t done it before, it will take some experimentation to figure out your own “house rules”. You’ll see what I mean. Enjoy!
Maybe you’ve heard of an “influencer” – the newest big thing in advertising. It’s all the rage right now.
It starts with an average person (or celebrity) who has an opinion. They build a following, and finally, brands jump on board and pay them either with cash or free product to promote the brand’s products.
There are influencers in beauty, fashion, fitness, gaming and more. It’s a marketing strategy that’s becoming widely successful. And you should know about it.
Where are influencers
Instagram is the most popular platform for influencers. Just scroll through your ‘Explore Page’ on Instagram to find numerous influencers you might like. But influencers are on other social media platforms, too. YouTube is a popular place, and so is Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.
Popular (adult) influencers
Influencers often are celebrities. This make sense. Its
easier for them to get a large following. In general, more views = more
business. Kylie Jenner is the highest paid celebrity influencer. She earns $1
million per sponsored Instagram post. Selena Gomez receives $800,000 per post
and Christiano Ronaldo earns $750,000. Kim Kardashian West, Beyoncé, Dwayne
“The Rock” Johnson, and many more make millions from sponsored posts.
But many top influencers are not household names. For example, here are a few of 2018’s top influencers:
Founder of Huda Beauty
24.3 million Instagram followers
2.2 million YouTube subscribers
Actor in “Expelled,” “The Outfield,” &
Well-known for his Instagram content
20.7 million Instagram followers
3.8 million Facebook followers
Male spokesperson for beauty
Covergirl’s first male spokesmodel
2.1 million Instagram followers
15.9 million YouTube subscribers
HGTV’s Fixer Upper host
Magnolia Homes, renovation business, owner with
Instagram reflects her work and personal life
4.8 million Instagram followers
There’s no doubt celebrities and influencers are having an effect on America’s youth. A company called Mintel (link) has reported that one third of kids aged 6-17 consider their top role models to be social media stars, i.e. influencers. This outranks actors, athletes, musicians and even the President.
Also, for kids, YouTube is the second most common source of information about new entertainment and toys, behind only TV commercials. This is not really a surprise. The current generation of youngsters already represent buying power of over $44 billion (link) with an additional $600 billion of family-spending also influenced by this generation.
Is there a problem here?
Maybe. Many parents don’t know that the FCC regulates TV content for children. However, they don’t have a say over Internet content. For example, there have been long standing rules about how much time in each TV show can show commercials, whether a TV show can show a product (called “product placement”), and if there was any compensation for that product placement. The regulators and protectors of children have long had their eye on TV.
But that’s not the case with social media and Internet influencers. Regulators are only now beginning to ask: “Should there be a visible disclaimer if a social media personality is being paid to endorse a product? Should there be restrictions on how much ‘content’ is pure advertising? Should there be quality checks on content for effects on health and safety?”
But you’re probably saying: “But really, what’s the big deal? It’s just stuff my kid watches to entertain themselves? Is it really having any impact?”
“Yes” is the short answer. Though this is so new not many studies are out yet, one study did find that influencers can change what your child eats. (link)
And the Bloomberg news service recently had a panel discussion on how YouTube’s children-focused channels actually have a lot of paid advertising disguised as content.
Do you need to panic? We don’t yet think so. But it is a good idea to monitor closely what your child is consuming on social media. And to find out who they follow and why they follow them.
Be aware that your kid is marketed to just as heavily as every other target demographic. Companies want their business. Meanwhile, Internet regulations with regard to children are not nearly as sophisticated and ingrained as TV rules, so it’s a bit more “user beware” out there.
And don’t forget – they don’t call them “influencers” because they have NO effect on your kid – or the bottom line of the company…
In a world full of negativity, it can be hard sometimes to spot the positive. Media companies purposefully hype up the bad news because it gives them more customers (and therefore, more money through advertising). Why is that? Because, sadly, we want bad news. Numerous studies have confirmed it (for example, click here and here) and when a news site goes totally positive, it loses readership big time (click here).
But positive things are happening every day. Sometimes they happen slowly, so they don’t make great news stories. For example, CNN recently thought of a few great things that happened in 2018:
North and South Korea ended the Korean War.
The United States’ unemployment rate was the lowest it has been since 1969.
Women in Saudi Arabia were finally allowed to drive.
Researchers developed a 10-minute cancer test.
157 new species were discovered in Southeast Asia.
A record number of minority and gay athletes competed in the Olympics.
NASA’s Insight captured the first sounds of wind on Mars.
The Online World and
So, good things are happening. But what about the online world? Any parent knows that today’s kids are more plugged in than ever before. In fact, one estimate is that, because of smartphones and computer screens, 1 in 3 Internet users are now adolescents or children.
But maybe it’s not all bad (as a recent Huffington Post article declared). A really cool book that came out in Jan. 2019 (link at bottom) argues that several good things are happening because your kid can access the Internet:
Learning is possible anytime. As our own example, consider DuoLingo, a free app that allows anyone to learn a language on their phone 24/7. Dr. Lauber is currently using it to learn Spanish and he says he loves it. Your kid will have more opportunities to learn than any generation before. And online communities are forming around these platforms. This will allow your children to find friends who share their hobbies and interests.
Social media can help tweens strengthen their current relationships. Did you know that more than 90% of teens say they use social media to connect daily with people they know in real life? And that’s even true for gaming. More than 75% say they play with real friends and they feel more connected because of it. Teens say they are staying in close touch with their family members through the Internet. Again, our example? Dr. Lauber says he is hasfar better communication with this three kids, who have left the house, than he ever had with his own parents because of the Internet.
The Internet allows your child to participate in cultural
change and social movements. Did you know Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani
girl that got shot on a bus by the Taliban but went on to win the Nobel Peace
Prize in 2014, started at age 12 by blogging about girl’s rights in 2009? All
over the world young people’s voices are being heard because the Internet
allows that to happen.
Social media can also contribute to volunteering, voting, and donating. Many young people are civically engaged in their own neighborhoods and communities because of the power of social media. In fact, one 16-year-old created an app called “Sit with Us” to help kids find a group of students to eat lunch with so they would never again have to eat lunch alone.
Finally, creativity is also prospering through the Internet. Apps and software for writing, photography, videography, and more, are popular with tween and teens. They allow even the youngest to discover their expressive and creative side.
What can you do?
We think you can help your tween by focusing on the good happening in the world. And by remembering that technology is just a tool. It can be used for good or bad. Teach them appropriate use of each app or software they install. And role model good behavior. Maybe you can show them how to learn about volunteering opportunities in their own community. Or how to turn their passion for any social cause into progress and action by learning how to communicate and possibly mobilize their community.
In the end you have a far greater influence on your tween/teen than they are likely to admit. Keep it positive. Balance out all of that “bad news” media. And teach that an act of kindness really does go a long way. Even farther, in many ways, than the Internet.
For more good stuff like this, check out Diana Graber’s great book “Raising Humans in a Digital World”.
Have you updated your ideas about your kid’s careers? A lot has changed. Your child may not be old enough to be looking into colleges or jobs, but you need to know that the future is not necessarily like the past, and that includes the job market. Careers that were booming when you first started out are not the same careers your kids will choose. Some job opportunities have only recently been created. And the top majors at many universities and colleges are different than before.
For example, CNN partnered with CareerBuilder and recently listed the top 10 college majors of 2019 (found at onlinecourses.net ):
Other websites say healthcare and technology/business occupations are in high demand and that STEM careers are also booming. “STEM” means Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, by the way.
You’ll find the list a bit amusing, probably. Zuma instructor? But the graph does provide their average salary.
Offshore Wind Farm Engineer
Social Media Manager
Chief Listening Officer
Information Security Analyst
User Experience Designer
The Best Jobs for the
According to thebestschools.org/ the following careers are expected to grow significantly in the next decade, perhaps when your child will be searching for a job.
Solar Photovoltaic Installers
Projected Growth, 2016-2026: 105.30%
2026 Projected Total Employment: 23,200
Median Annual Wage 2016: $39,240
Wind Turbine Service Technicians
Projected Growth, 2016-2026: 96.10%
2026 Projected Total Employment: 11,300
Median Annual Wage 2016: $52,260
Home Health Aides
Projected Growth, 2016-2026: 46.7%
2026 Projected Total Employment: 1,337,000
Median Annual Wage 2016: $22,600
Personal Care Aides
Projected Growth, 2016-2026: 37.4%
2026 Projected Total Employment: 2,770,100
Median Annual Wage 2016: $21,920
Projected Growth, 2016-2026: 37.4%
2026 Projected Total Employment: 145,900
Median Annual Wage 2016: $101,480
They have 20 other future careers listed, check out their website for more. M
What You Can Do
As you look at these lists, don’t get alarmed. Simply do some research. Maybe put your earlier expectations aside and consider how you can let your child explore some of these new opportunities as they grow.
For example, one concern many career counselors express is that some kids never seem to consider jobs far from the “family tree”. This can limit their options. Your child has several years to try out different skills and likes. See how many different careers you can expose them to.
Because, just as reporter Samuel Clemens once said:
“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work
a day in your life.” – Mark Twain
Venmo is a money sharing app that your kids definitely know
about (even if you don’t!) With Venmo you
can pay and request money from people you know. All they need is a Venmo
account. Finding your friends’ accounts is super easy: you just sync your
contact list from Facebook and it automatically finds them.
The app can be used for lots of things. It makes splitting
the bill much simpler, for example. Or you can reimburse someone for buying you
a drink. Your Venmo is account is funded by your Venmo balance (what other
people have paid you), your credit or debit card, or a U.S. back account. When
you connect with your bank account, you can transfer your Venmo balance to your
Right now Venmo is used by 66% of young Americans (according to expandedramblings.com). Its parent company is PayPal and it has 27 million users, and its growing. Just in the second quarter of 2018 its payment volume was $14 billion! Venmo is really easy to use. You simply describe what the payment is for (or use emojis) and pick the amount and the person. Click! It’s done. (The names have been changed from the actual screen shot below.)
Purchasing with Venmo
There are companies that accept payment through Venmo.
Companies like Uber, Grubhub, Forever 21, and more, use this service. Also, any
store that has the PayPal button will take Venmo. And online companies are
starting to display the Venmo logo on their payment pages.
Pricing: Is Venmo
Yes, it’s free. Most of the time. You can send money using
your Venmo balance, bank account, or debit card, free of charge. There is a
standard 3% fee applied to credit card transactions. Venmo’s transfer service
(to your bank account) is also free to use, but a 1% fee is charged for each
Instant Transfer. Venmo.com also has a Venmo Mastercard, check out https://venmo.com/about/fees/ for more
information about it.
Like everything else connected to the Internet, safety is
not 100% guaranteed, especially when your bank information is directly
connected. Investopedia,com says “Venmo uses data encryption to protect users
against unauthorized transactions, and stores user information on servers in
secure locations. Venmo also allows users to set up a PIN code for mobile
application use for additional security, though it does not compel users to set
one up, by default.” Of course, there’s always the chance a hacker may break
through Venmo’s security measures, but that’s true for your Visa card too. What I can say is nearly all teens aren’t
worried about. Venmo is growing in popularity.
Oh, and what can you buy with it? Anything. You describe what to call it in the app. If you buy alcohol form a friend, or pot, you can call it a cookie or a soda. So even if your parents see the transaction, or later, someone investigates, there is no evidence of anything other a transfer of money. But we’ll talk about that more in a future blog.
It is very unlikely that you as a parent know about finsta’s. What is a finsta? A “fake” Instagram account used for posting content that your children don’t want on their “real” Instagram page. From personal experience I can tell you that content usually includes random unedited pictures and captions of their life. Often pretty harmless stuff.
But might (and have) strayed to posting inappropriate pictures involving nudity and drugs/alcohol. Typically girls have finstas, although boys can have them too. They typically set them to “private” and give them an unusual name so only their closest friends can see what they post. Finstas have been around for a while.
Why do teens have
Recently, USATODAY.com talked about how older teens and college students have a finsta because of the fear that employers monitor what their employee does on social media. I think that probably does not apply that often. Maybe that’s why people with finstas from their high school life keep them. But most people I know that have a finsta have one because they don’t want boys or their parents to see what their posting.
Interestingly, finstas are kind of the opposite of people’s real Instagram account. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution observed, “Everyone kind of knows that no one’s Instagram life is their real life… You’re really tailoring all the photos and editing them and making sure that they look perfect. On your Finstagram, it’s supposed to be like the complete opposite.”
This tendency to let your finsta be more raw and unedited may be the reason sometimes inappropriate content appears.
Should you as a parent be concerned?
One source, Blog.hubspot.com doesn’t think finstas are all bad. They recently wrote about how finstas might allow your child an opportunity to express the unedited side of their life with their trusted friends. Maybe its a good way from to practice expressing themselves. I think if your child is using their finsta for fun, instead of hiding inappropriate things, you may have nothing to worry about. But of course, how would you know, is the big question.
I CAN report that my friends seem to post random photos of themselves on their finstas with captions about boy troubles, stressing out about school, etc…. Most do not post anything inappropriate. It is more of a “spam account” where they can rant about daily struggles to close friends.
So the bottom line is, like any social media account your child has, you may want to keep on eye it. The trouble they can get in to is just too big to ignore. But hopefully, if things are within bounds, you’ll respect their privacy. In their eyes it might be like reading their diary. Want to raise that question with them?Maybe you can explain that, unlike a diary, people don’t usually post any inappropriate pictures in their diary. And a diary really is private. Unlike a finsta.
Odds are your child will become part of a cyberbullying scheme at some point in their young life. It’s unfortunately just one of the consequences of the new “digital age”. The only question that is relevant is: will they be on the giving end or the receiving end? (I’ll admit for the moment there may be a few in the middle just “watching”.)
So what is cyberbullying?
By definition it is bullying that takes place over the internet, cellphones, or social media. Yes, these things overlap. Social media is on their phone, etc… Cyberbullying is posting or sending inappropriate, negative, or private information about someone to threaten, harass, or embarrass them.
My personal story about cyberbullying
I was in middle school and a new girl moved to my school. That girl and I were similar in ways and I became envious of her. I accused her of stealing my friends. Of course, I now realize my friends liked her because she was just like me. I can now confess we both did our share of cyberbullying each other. Usually on social media or via text message. A lot of hurtful things were said, and because of it, we both lost some friends. We did not get along for quite a while and we did get in trouble with our parents for the way we were acting.
Looking back on the situation, it was ridiculous. None of those things needed to be said/written, and all of those things are still out there – in/on the internet somewhere.
Of course, we eventually got over it and became good friends. Nobody changes as much as a teenager.
So isn’t it ironic that the ever-permanent internet is where today’s teens spend so much of their time? Teens need to change. The internet is permanent. Not really a good match.
What should you be concerned about? Everything…
Anything your kid posts on the internet can become public and it might affect online reputation. Don’t believe them when they say “it will disappear in a few seconds on Snapchat”. (Read our blog post about Snapchat to learn more.)
Stopbullying.gov says cyberbullying is persistent, permanent and hard to notice. Dr. Lauber told us a story about when he left school, he was safe from bullying as a young kid. But his kids experienced even in his house because they were online. There’s no longer any safe place!
Did you know…
the 2015 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that, nationwide, about 21% of students ages 12-18 experience bullying?
the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates an estimated 14.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey?
Cyberbullying is not always easy to catch. Unless your child shows or tells you, or you’re very knowledgeable on their social life (texting, social media, etc…), you may be unaware of what is going on. Parents and children use technology differently. This makes it difficult to know when cyberbullying may be happening. Below is a graph from cyberbullying.org on cyberbullying victimization, along with some signs of cyberbullying and some helpful tips.
Is your child bullying or being bullied?
Cyberbullying happens to children of all ages at least once in their lives and at any time of any day. KidsHealth.org mentions some signs of cyberbullying:
being emotionally upset during or after using the internet or the phone
being very secretive or protective of one’s digital life
avoiding school or group gatherings
changes in mood, behavior, sleep or appetite
wanting to stop using the computer or cellphone
being nervous or jumpy when getting an instant message, text, or email
avoiding discussions about computer or cellphone activities
So what can you do?
I confess, I’m not a parent yet. And maybe my generation will be more prepared for it, since we’re the first generation to live through it. But here’s what I found (and Dr. Lauber endorses these tips!)
Be open and honest with your child. Be someone they can come to for help.
Offer your comfort and support.
Praise them if they seek your help.
Talk to someone like a principle or guidance counselor at their school.
Encourage your child to “be the better person” and not retaliate.
Provide punishment for those who are bullying.
Limit technology time and monitor it.
Learn more about online safety.
Set a good example yourself.
No one wants their child to be bullied or to bully others, but it happens. I believe it always has and always will. But I hope I’m wrong.
All you can do is try your best and help your child make good choices. The good news is I lived through it. Your child will to.