By Charles Jarvis, LMHC
There has always been a benefit to speaking to someone directly, which seems to be changing at a rapid rate thanks to social media. We used to be able to look someone in the eye, view body language, and be awarded opportunities to read subtle cues. Now with the online era, we find these cues are not readily available. And furthermore, they are very difficult to separate from. This has changed the landscape for our youth greatly, especially when reviewing social media and bullying.
The world has changed for our kids, which in essence has made it a lot smaller in terms of managing mental health. We all have the want to be accepted and supported, which impacts children and teens greatly. The biggest change between generations is when most adults were growing up, we were able to unplug and take a break. Now bullying can occur by text or social media and there feels like there is no escape. As parents, we want to protect our kids, but how?
Here are three tips to parenting during the digital age:
Have open communication
Talk to your child regularly to keep maintain open communication. If your child is involved in bullying, most likely they will not tell you. Ask questions, stay informed with who their friends are, and ask how they feel about them.
Maintain a consistent time together
Try to have consistent time together with your child – whether it be family meals, and outing over a weekend, or just a night for the family to unwind. This will benefit the open communication between you.
Between work, maintaining relationships and even other children, when your children get older it can be easier to give them space. However, it is important to remain involved with your child’s school and recreational activity schedule. A lot of times teens will feel comfortable talking to someone outside of the family (i.e. coach or pastor), who will notify you if concerned.
Social media tends to allow conversations to be misunderstood at times, so be patient and available. Youth are our future and should be fostered and supported. We live in a new age with technology, so stay vigilant and supportive!
About Charles Jarvis, LMHC
Charles Jarvis is a licensed mental health counselor practicing in Massachusetts with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. He has been working in mental health since 2008 and has held a variety of critical roles. As a community hospital site manager, he has a specialized focus on those in the community experiencing mental health crises. In addition, he has worked in outpatient therapy, day, and community programs as well as specializing in populations with life-threatening symptoms. He enjoys talking to people with an aim to support his clients in their goal to achieve a better life experience.