social media

Social Media as a Tool for Good

I first came across this article by Laura Clydesdale over the summer and then Girls Leadership posted it on their Facebook page recently and it reminded me that so much of the talk about social media to parents is that “it’s bad” and “something to be fearful of” and while the second statement may be true on some level, it can also be a powerful tool for good. I wanted to recap some of the points made from this article:

A simple exercise that Dr. Lisa Hinkelman talks about involves asking your daughter 3 words to describe herself, 3 words a close friend might use to describe her, and then seeing how those words stack up to her image on social media. I might also encourage you as her mom or other loving adult to do this same exercise for yourself. What similarities do you notice? What are the differences?

So often, teenage girls (and adult women) want to portray what they think as the ideal. In real life, many teenage girls I’ve done this activity with have described themselves using these words: funny, kind, adventurous, athletic, creative, honest, etc. Those are all amazing qualities and yet with the exception of maybe adventurous and athletic, the social media profiles of those same girls don’t showcase their other attributes. Instead, with just the right filter and angle, their images highlight what’s on the outside, not the inside.

Need more help with some conversation starters about social media, check out: for some great tips.

Written by Kathleen Goodman

Written by Kathleen Goodman

Summer Reading Recommendation #3

A student of mine once said to me, "I'm so happy it's summer and I can't wait to go camping with my family because where we camp, there's no cell phone service." Her comment stuck with me as I read Ana Homayoun's book Social Media Wellness. I would wager to guess that most adolescents view cell phones as both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing to have 24/7 access to your friends and not have to go through the antiquated methods we used- calling your friend's house and having to go through the pleasantries when her parents answered the phone- "Oh Hi Mr. Roberts, yes swim team is going well. Is Alice available to talk?" And yet, I also hear from the students I work with that it's a curse. "My friends get mad at me if I don't respond right away to their texts but my parents take my phone when I'm doing homework," lamented a student of mine.

I've read Social Media Wellness cover to cover twice and I still takeaway something new each time. I want to highlight Chapter 3 from the book- "Five Ways Social Media Affects Today's Tweens and Teens." One of Homayoun's five examples she discusses is this "always on mentality." I think this is something both adults and students struggle with and it's something I feel contributes to the rising anxiety levels of students today. Instead of copying homework assignments off the board, many students are redirected to their teacher's online page to check for assignments and often there's this fear (real or perceived) of an assignment being posted without a student knowing it. "Walking into school on Monday and finding out there was an assignment posted that I didn't know about is my worst fear," says a student, "so I check my online homework calendar all the time to make sure that never happens." 

Technology hasn't just changed the way students get and turn in homework assignments; it's changed how they communicate. Interacting socially with friends doesn't end at 3pm anymore or even when after school activities are over, it continues throughout the evening and often late into the wee hours of the morning. Students talk about the constant notifications and buzzing that happens when they're trying to sleep or do homework. Navigating boundaries around social media has become one of the hardest lessons for students to set with their peers. "I don't know how to tell my friends that sometimes I just want to be left alone at night" or "sometimes it's easier if I make up a story or blame it on my parents so friends don't get mad if I don't respond right away." 

If you haven't read Social Media Wellness I highly encourage you to do so. There are great points that resonate with both parents and students and in particular this "always on mentality" is something that adults and adolescents can resonate with and perhaps share strategies. 

Written by Kathleen Goodman

Written by Kathleen Goodman