Waiting for Likes is a waste of time.
Likes. Followers. Cyber friends. This is the new norm. How many of these can we get in a short period of time? These give us an adrenaline rush. An ego boost. A false validation. A rush that is even better than thirty minutes of exercise. No wonder we are getting more and more obese and unhealthy (side comment!)
Social media is great, but in some aspects, not so great. Especially for our kids' emotional well-being and self-esteem. Studies have shown Instagram and Snapchat can be negative contributors to
our kids' mental health and could be detrimental to them socially, academically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
I have a 13-year-old daughter. I am skeptical about her presence on social media. We had a long talk before I allowed her to create an Instagram page just a couple of months ago. I helped her fully understand that the number of Likes she gets is meaningless. What is meaningful is how much she likes herself, how many likes and check marks she gives herself on a daily basis. She is her own social media empire. We agreed that if she gets too consumed in the speed of Likes on her posts, or gets wrapped up in what her friends are doing, her account will be deleted. My daughters' self-esteem, self-confidence, and emotional strength is super important. I teach both my daughters the importance of self-love and self-acceptance regularly.
Do you do this with your children? How often?
I interviewed a nanny for my daughter a few weeks ago. A beautiful lady in her early twenties. On our first few introductory texts, she told me she recognized the origin of my name and understood
my native language, Yoruba. She texted me a couple sentences in Yoruba. She is Caucasian, from Georgia. She told me she took an elective in college in Yoruba. I was impressed. I made an instant
connection with her, even before we met in person.
When we met in person, I connected with her even more. She seemed sweet. She talked about her family a lot. We connected talking about my book and my passions. She shared her passions and told me she would like to eventually teach and help kids in some way. She said she was at a crossroads and was not sure what she would eventually like to do. We had a great conversation. She seemed like a good fit. My daughter liked her too.
Until we checked out her Instagram post a few days later and saw her 50K followers along with hundreds of nude/seminude/sexually provocative posts and pictures.
My heart broke. I did not expect this. Why would this be the image this sweet, lovely young lady would want to portray?
There are many accounts like this on Instagram. Young ladies with nude/seminude pictures. A little bit of girliness/cuteness is OK in pictures (at least, in my opinion), but excessively sexual pictures are a no-no.
Our young kids and adolescents are identifying with the number of followers/Likes they get on social media. They are doing this at all costs. At the cost of their dignity. At the cost of their future careers and life purposes. I doubt there is any serious prospective employer who would not question the decision to hire such candidates after reviewing their sexually provocative social media accounts.
I did not hire the lady above. I could not. Our values did not mesh. I'm sure she is a good person, but I could not have her nanny my 13-year-old daughter. The wonderful connections we had on our initial texts and in-person meeting was totally annulled by her superficial social media life. And I could not overlook what I saw. It was not just one or two provocative posts. It was all her posts.
It is up to us adults to guide our teens and youth in appropriate social media behavior. We should let them know that their value is intrinsic. It is within them. It is not what others think of them or how others view them. Young women, for example, must present themselves in a respectful, strong, yet feminine way on all platforms. They cannot have different personalities in different situations. Different at work, on social media, in person. They should stay true to themselves on all platforms.
Social media has its pros and cons. We must make our children aware of this. We must teach them self-love, self-care, self-acceptance. We must teach them ways to increase their self-esteem and to not to place their value in others' hands.
Five thousand Likes from others is senseless and meaningless if you have zero Likes for your own self.
It is time to guide and protect our children and youth from the dangers of social media.
Start now. Engage your kids in conversations. Check out their accounts and their online pages.
Our children need our guidance. Adults, we must be proactive!
On a side note, some of us adults also make this same mistake—we identify with the number of Likes, followers we have. That mindset change must start with us.
Our children are watching!