Have you ever really listened to the first few moments, top of the hour or commercial "tease" into the news? If you listen carefully, each of these messages seem to indicate...
Every major weather system is the worst ever. Every election cycle brings our country to the brink of destruction. Every sickness is the president's fault. Really? By the way, after you are "teased" into viewing, the news channel's promise of impending, unavoidable, irreversible and critical doom is typically downgraded or reversed.
Certainly, there are real concerns that need to be addressed in our country and world.
However, a clear and sensible conversation seems terribly difficult to have in a culture that seems more concerned with market share and political affiliation (liberal and conservative) than covering the news and promoting dialogue. This type of news coverage NEVER ENDS. It is called the 24 Hour News Cycle and it creates opportunity for great misunderstanding and misrepresentation.
What does this have to do with teenagers? A great deal!
Teenagers have their own 24 Hour news cycle. It is found on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other social networking locations. Honestly, it NEVER ENDS and it creates opportunity for great misunderstanding and misrepresentation.
If you are an adult, think back to your teenage years for a moment. If you had drama at school or an extracurricular activity, you could take a break from the pressure by going home or a trusted friends house for a while. Even though a "tacky" note or picture could be circulating around your friend group, in many cases, those could be destroyed. A moment of peace could be found.
Today, things are much different. If today's student has drama at school or extracurricular activity, it can be hard to take a break from the pressure at home or a house of a trusted friend. Why? Unlike the "tacky" notes and pictures of the past, the world of Social Media NEVER ENDS. The Teenage news cycle runs 24 hours. A moment of peace takes intentionality-something teenagers often lack.
So what do we as caring adults in a student's life do? Let me suggest two things:
- Wait to introduce your younger children/teenager to Social Media. I know, I am suggesting you become the uncool parent. Remember, our job as parents is not to be cool but help our children become healthy, functional, productive adults. I see a lot of elementary students with very expensive electronic devices. And, even though age limits are set by companies, parents allow their children to be on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. because other kids are being allowed onto these sites. Here is a fact, once you start, it is hard to say "no" to social media. It really is alright to push back phone and media usage until later teenage years.
- Do not let your student keep their phone (and other social media devices) in their room at night. Yes, the uncool parent theme continues. Especially with phone usage, a student will text, game, tweet and Instagram all night long if allowed. This is not healthy and leads to a whole list of cascading consequences to mental and physical health. Negotiate a time that is acceptable and comfortable for you and your teenager. Oh, in the negotiations, you are the adult and always carry the majority.