social media tips — for teens + for us
Part of cultivating a good life is using social media for GOOD.
Our oldest son just turned 14. (What? How?? *tear trickles down my face) Completely predictable … Porter has been interested in getting an Instagram account for quite some time, but I was holding out. I just didn’t feel like it was the right time yet. And then a few months ago, literally as our family was boarding a plane to Chicago, that was the time. Porter had brought it up again and my maternal instincts said Yep, it’s time. It’s time for Social Media Bootcamp — Becky style.
Porter and I sat together on that flight and literally talked about social media for a solid two-ish hours. I laid it all out. The good, the bad, the ugly. I kicked off the conversation by asking him — What’s even the point of social media? Why do we have it? Why do we use it? Why do we care about it? Why do you want to have an Instagram account? I listened and he talked and we connected. I felt his respect as I shared with him all that I think is beautiful about connecting and learning and being inspired through technology when it’s used properly. I also shared with him all sorts of dangers, pitfalls, and cautions as well. I shared good examples + bad examples. I shared + I shared + I shared. Porter asked fantastic questions and added valuable insights as well.
And then we landed in Chicago. And while standing outside of some breakfast place on the corner of two very busy city streets, we set up his account, complete with a new profile picture that we snapped right then + there (thank goodness for the fabulous yellow wall nearby!).
Social media is such a significant part of many of our lives. Not just our kids’ lives, but ours. You’re on it; I’m on it. I use it every. single. day. I have earnestly prayed to use social media for good. I have a strong desire to share content that is uplifting, encouraging, enlightening, inspiring, valuable, useful, helpful, and just GOOD. And with about 254,000+ followers on my various social media platforms (as of now), I take that very seriously. I also have a lot of fun with social media!
I was recently asked to speak at a local youth conference about social media. I met with a couple hundred kids, ages 14-18, and we discussed the pitfalls, the slippery slopes, and the beautiful blessings of social media. We discussed how there are things about social media that can bring you joy and convenience and also things that can quickly lead you down the wrong path in so many ways. But before I even showed up to that conference, I reached out to YOU — our online community. I asked about your thoughts and insights. And you guys showed up. We had so much fantastic engagement and expressed interest in the topic. Thank you for weighing in! I love you!
So this is what I did: I compiled a curated list of bullet points, directly from my heart and also from your written comments on Facebook and Instagram. I pondered. I prayed. I put a lot of thought into how to present the information to these young people. And then this acronym came to my mind — S.M.A.R.T. I felt inspired to take an approach that would inspire the kids to be smart about social media — not just how they share but how they consume. So I organized and reorganized the content, passed it along to our new designer Miriam, and we had a handout for the youth conference!
Today I’m sharing this handout with you because most of you have kids. Also, while this is curated and put together for our teenagers, the information most certainly is applicable to adults just the same. Feel free to read, use, print, share, distribute … however you’d like. Permission granted. May we all be more conscientious and intentional about how we share + consume + participate on social media so it truly can be a life-enhancing tool and not something that sucks the life out of us.
It’s worth mentioning that the youth conference I spoke at was a church group… and even more specifically, they are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That’s the church I belong to, and we’re often referred to as “Mormons” (because we believe in the Book of Mormon, which is another set of scriptures that testifies of our Savior). Anyway, I bring this up because I know some of our readers are Mormon and so if you happen to want a more “churchy” version of this handout, complete with more spiritual anecdotes and scripture references, then we’re providing that version as well.
Handout for general public
Handout with a “Mormon angle” ; )
By the way — The 4th page of the 4-page PDF (in both versions) is the part where we encourage you or your kids to write down thoughts.