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Social Media: Parents Need Guidelines, Too

Social media can be a wonderful thing. It connects us to people all over the world and allows us to stay in touch with friends and family members.

As parents, most of us are aware of how social media can also have a negative effect on kids and teens. I believe it’s equally important for parents to be aware of how we are impacted by our engagement on social platforms. I have talked to a number of fathers and mothers over the years who have expressed ways in which they have been negatively affected by social media.

Some parents have shared that being on social media leads to unhealthy comparisons with others. We might compare such things as our parenting styles, kids’ accomplishments, careers, or lifestyles. As we scroll through our feeds, we may have such thoughts as:

“Their family always looks so happy. Am I doing something wrong as a parent?”

“Their kid is walking already? Mine isn’t even sitting up yet.”

“I wish we could afford to take the type of trips that they do.”

All of this comparison can lead to a lack of confidence as a parent. It may also change the way we interact with our children or partners.

We are also impacted by how others engage with our content. Posting about our kids or parenting choices opens us up to feedback from others. Most of us have experienced a comment from someone that has rubbed us the wrong way and ruined our evening. As parents, the answer is not to stop engaging on social media, but instead to be mindful of our interactions on each platform.

Parents can follow these tips to improve how they navigate social media:

Remember that no parent is perfect. Not many people go on social media and talk about their worst parenting moments or mistakes. We all make an effort to present ourselves in a positive light to others. Remember this the next time you’re making an assumption after seeing a photo or a post by someone else. That person may seem to have it all figured out as a parent, but you never really know what goes on behind the scenes.

Only share if you’re comfortable receiving feedback. People may say things about your parenting style or family’s lifestyle choices. If you’re choosing to share those things with others, be aware that you may encounter upsetting comments. If it’s something that you’d rather not get feedback on, don’t share it with others.

Take a break! If scrolling through social media increases your feelings of anxiety or sadness, erodes your self-esteem, or weakens your confidence as a parent, then it may be time to take break. Changes in your mood and mindset can have a negative impact on the way that you interact with your children and partner.

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About Z. Andrew Jatau, LPC

About Z. Andrew  Jatau, LPC

Z. Andrew is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the founder of Mylemarks, an online company that develops social-emotional resources to use with kids and teens. Through that company, he creates content such as digital downloads, workbooks, and children’s books. He’s an adjunct professor in the Human Services department at Old Dominion University, and serves as the Fatherhood Consultant for CHKD’s Dads in Action program. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, and listening to music.