People worry all the time about being happy. It didn’t just happen today, this generation. So do not blame social media. That pervasive feeling have been nagging at us a longer time than we care to admit. Instead of working towards it, we reflect, we question and rationalise. And we compensate. Should it be any different for our children? It is not just the kids, but most adults are also hooked on social media. They can’t put their phones down. They use them for work meetings, for buying things, for keeping in touch with their old school buddies. If you, who have been born of a different generation are using these tools for your own day to day, what do you suggest children who are born of this time, use?
The problem was always there. It’s not pretty. And before social media we didn’t want to address it. So, it stayed hidden. Do not blame social media for pointing it out. Social media platforms exposes and sometimes zeroes on user personality. The substance of a person you would usually not have a clue to, can now be hinted at by their social media accounts. Narcissism, love of cats, political inclinations; it’s right there.
Social media has been blamed for everything including mental health issues. A disparity of income can affect available alternatives. Sports (equipment), community sponsored drama, school music recitals. When these children are all tuckered out from sports, or thinking and creating costumes and props for plays, there is less time worrying about what they are missing out on. They sleep, rest, they collaborate, they communicate with their peers. They get to worry about different things and not just how many likes their new profile picture have.
Roosevelt said ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ Well, sure. That is when you are looking from a place of where we (in our opinion) fall short of. But you can’t be less at everything. The body image dissatisfaction is a tired argument, it has been plaguing women since the 80’s and magazine subscription was a thing. Like most of the problems being blamed on social media, this is an old one. It is hardly fair to put the blame on a newcomer just because it is convenient. This is not to say that the children should be given unlimited access to social media. It does mean that they should be given a chance to explore it. The same way we explored newspapers for news, classifieds, garage sales and even personal ads.
This is their world and their time. What we must do is try to help them along using tools we already know (responsible posting/sharing, security measures) to hone theirs. Guide them in the safe and proper use of social media.