Like most days, I find myself aimlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed, catching up on my friends’ lives, wishing them a happy birthday, or commenting on pictures of their kids. On its best day, Facebook offers connection to those who live far and near when busy lives prevent more regular in-person interaction. On its worst day… well, I don’t have to tell you what that looks like.
As I watched things get heated in certain conversations over the last week, I wondered to myself how my teens would react if they were witness to what I see on a far-too-regular basis. Luckily, my children tell me Facebook is for parents and old people, so there’s little risk — but if that’s true and Facebook is primarily used by adults who spend much of their time raising the next generation, are our parental words of wisdom holding up in our social media world?
Let Your Actions Mirror Your Words
People should know who you are and what you stand for not just by your words, but by your actions. I love it when my teens talk about things they care about, but I love it even more when they take action. Unfortunately, we live in a world where you can post a meme or a politically charged image and feel like activists. We can hit post and get Likes and “amen” comments and feel good about standing up for what we believe in, but unless there are actions behind those words, our Facebook posts serve only to create division with no real cost on our end.
If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say, Don’t Say Anything At All
Speaking of creating division, imagine if our kids saw some of the heated conversations that occur between the same adults who tell them to use “nice words.” Obviously, we don’t all have to agree on every issue and that’s not the lesson we necessarily want to teach our children, but we do tell them to treat everyone with respect. Shouldn’t we hold ourselves to the same standard?
Social Media Is Forever
This is a conversation my husband and I have with our teenagers all the time. Colleges, employers, teachers, and pretty much anyone has access to what you post, so choose what you share wisely. Maybe, as adults, we aren’t looking to get a new job or worried about college applications, but people are watching. Shouldn’t we care that what we post sends the right message, or at the very least check a few facts before sharing?
Don’t Believe Everything You Read On The Internet
I joked this year that all I wanted for my birthday was for people to check the facts of the articles and memes they share before posting. We have endless access to information and the ability to fact check anything within five minutes, and yet, there is inaccurate information shared all the time. We’re feeding in to clickbait sites that have the sole purpose of getting Likes so they can make money. If our kids fell for that stuff, we’d shake out heads and wonder what the world was coming to.
Get Out From In Front Of Your Phone
This one speaks for itself. If we want our kids to put their electronics down and get to know the people around them in a real and tangible way, we have to be willing to do the same.
I am the central figure in the day-to-day story of my kids’ lives. That power means I can’t just shoot words of wisdom at them without practicing what I preach… in person and online. If Facebook ever becomes cool enough for the next generation, I hope they see me living out the lessons I’ve taught them. I also hope they ignore the bar-dancing photo, but then again, I also teach them that no one is perfect.