Whenever we speak about technology to parents, we stress the importance of taking Technology Sabbaths. If we’re going to teach the kids we love to unplug, we need to do so, as well. We have families at Daystar who are taking technology-free spring breaks…or even a day or two technology-free on their spring breaks. We also have parents who purposely go on trips where WiFi isn’t available or doesn’t work so well…might just be a thought for future family trips!
I was with a group of high school girls this week talking about their spring breaks, and the subject of social media came up. They quickly started talking about how hard it can be, seeing all the photos of friends in glamorous locations, often together, and looking perfectly happy in every photo. I asked them why they really want to be on Instagram over spring break. How does it help? What are the benefits? They talked about how fun it is to see where people are the first few days, but then it starts to feel discouraging. They also talked about how much they love to post their own photos. And, so, they decided together, to do spring break a little differently. They decided to get on for a few minutes a day, and post whatever they wanted to post, and then get right back off.
The fantastic thing about this conversation was that it was their idea. I tried to lead them there, but with as much “back door-ness” as possible. (Remember Melissa’s quote, “to the degree that kids can predict you, they’ll dismiss you”?) And so I started off telling them how there are days I can’t be on social media. In certain seasons, there are just times that other people’s perfect looking, sun basking, happily loving travel and family photos are just too much for me (although my brain is developed and I’ve lived enough life to know they’re not really any of those things). I started there…talking about how we can all be susceptible to social media shame, and that I’ve learned to just take myself off of social media at certain times. (Do you have those, too?) And then I asked them what it was like to be on social media over spring break. They got themselves to the sabbath idea, once the conversation started.
We would recommend, if you have teenagers, having a similar conversation before or even on your break. Ask them how it affects them, seeing all of the photos come across their feed? How does it make them feel about themselves? Their trip? How does it help? But make it a conversation, not an interrogation or a lecture. Interrogations and lectures are the quickest way to shut down the teenagers we love. Instead, talk about your own experience, ask questions, and, mostly, listen. You might be surprised at the outcome…and we would guess you would both learn more about each other in the process.