“What did you do this summer?” The teacher used to ask from the front of the classroom. Each student told their experiences while their classmates listened in rapt attention and tried to picture the adventures in their minds.
Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more. Social media is an inevitable part of the world that we live in. Some people choose to navigate this heavy topic with their children by not allowing access until a certain age, many times even later than the required age of the app. Some people allow them at much younger ages.
There is no overall right or wrong answer on this topic, as every family is different, and each child is different.
In our home, our children receive their first cell phones when they are in fourth grade. This may seem young to many, but there is a reason.
As it works out, our children are all two years apart. The kids walk home from school each day, and with the school break down in our district, the oldest of the elementary school kids is in fourth grade. We do not have a home phone, so they receive a basic phone in fourth grade.
They have the ability to call or text if something comes up. It is a basic phone, not a smartphone, that comes later.
I am fully aware that this would not work for all families but is functional for ours.
Looking at smartphones, and all that they offer, there are some unexpected challenges.
We have all read the warnings of over-sexualization, of temptation beyond what they are capable of processing. These are not the greatest struggles that I see in my children.
I see discontent. In a world that is constantly showing them perfection in flashes, their real world seems to pale in comparison.
I began a new job in January, which has been beneficial to my entire family. Work-life balance is back where it should be. A new position, however, does not lend itself well to extended time off over the summer months.
My kids have been and will continue to participate in the customary College 4 Kids, camps, camping, swimming, and activities with their friends. We will not, however, be venturing to a far off exotic location.
We will be standing on beaches of Midwest lakes opposed to beaches of oceans. While at work during the day, the kids are able to stay home and play. Some days they spend with friends, some days they stay home.
The trouble is that the time at home provides them with the opportunity to spend time looking through social media.
Pictures of friends on sandy beaches. Posts from friends in the mountains. Tweets from friends on cruise ships.
So many posts about friends and classmates and the amazing, adventurous summer plans. My kids are experiencing some serious summer FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
Like many other parents, I strive to provide summer memories that will carry them throughout life. This summer, however, the majority of events that take place will not be filling Instagram frames any time soon.
A small part of me feels a twinge of regret for that. However, the majority of me does not.
Life is not lived in 15-second flashy Snapchat videos. Experience is not felt through Instagram filters. Memories are not made through 280-character tweets.
Contentment and peace are not found by comparing your experience to others.
Here’s hoping that my kids will not miss the experiences in front of them while waiting for the picture perfect one to appear.