Parenting during the Social Media Revolution

Our society has never changed quite so much with such large impacts. Did you know it took over 1.4 million years from the invention of useable fire to the invention of the match? Paper was invented in China 105 AD. Some thirteen hundred and sixty years later the printing press began. The first combustible engine was designed in the 1700’s. Two hundred years later Henry Ford made the first affordable automobile. The progression of metals, industry, medicine, and politics has been rampant, however; at a rate of speed which allowed us to learn as a society as inventions progressed.
Since the start of social media the pace and impact on society seems to have quantified. With the immediate access to information the world wide web started out to share in 1986, things have taken on a speed which has exceeded all expectations. Personal computers, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Snapchat, Instagram, Linked-in, and the development of useable GPS, gave all instant access to information and communication styles we’ve never previously experienced as a society.
The positive outcomes of this have been massive. Communication and access to information has never before been so easily disseminated and gathered throughout the world. This has lead to new perspectives, social and political change, and in many cases positive life-changing events. It’s helped us navigate, keep from getting lost, and intently occupied us regardless of anything else we faced in the day.
The negative outcomes of these developments have also been felt by all. Everyone knows or will know someone whose been negatively impacted by the boundaries crossed with these mediums. It’s not difficult to see how we as a society are testing the limits of this. Rumors aren’t spoken and spread in the same manner they were just when current parents were kids. Now one simply has to sit in their room, post, comment, record, and send for all to see. Regardless if it’s true, false, personal, professional, or family-based all have access to this now. Recruiters around the country in colleges and companies we work for have learned to utilize these mediums to get added information as to what their future students or employees are up to. Who do we hang out with?, What do we post about? What positive or negative information has been reported about us person in the last 10 years? All of this can and is being done within minutes from your phone or computer.
I’ve seen clients, friends, colleagues, and family members all impacted by the thoughtlessness which comes from posts, updates/image control, disrespecting others, and dealing with the negative impact which follows. I’ve also seen tremendous support, encouragement, healing, and research done through these mediums which have brought great progress. Unlike the majority of issues we’ve seen in history we simply will not be granted the luxury of time to figure all of this out. In addition, we don’t have a generation of elders to look back on to see how they managed the on-slot of the social norms and immediate gratification tools these outlets are based on. The future generations of parents will look back at this current generation of parents to learn from our mistakes and successes in how we navigate through this time. The successes and failure of our own children’s experiences will lead them into the way they parent in the future with these issues.
Regardless of your view regarding the pros and cons of technology and how we utilize this, all can agree the impact this has had on living in our society at all levels have been impacted. In recent months we’ve seen live feeds of physical and emotional attacks on others, torture, suicide, and murders. Audiences encourage this by keeping their accounts open, forwarding the feeds, and reporting on this throughout other mainstream media outlets. It’s everywhere and seems to inundate the majority of interactions people have with one another. The constant uploading of information, events, accomplishments, struggles, and own lives puts pressure onto most family systems. As members of society, we also are drawn to what others do and show as a way of normalizing our existence and daily lives. Youtube reports it receives 300 hours of videos to upload every minute. Almost 5 billion videos are watched each day. The rate of increase in both viewers and the amount of time spent viewing has increased between 50% and 60% every year for the last several years. The numbers aren’t distorting the truth, however; it seems clear in many cases the information we are getting and sharing is distorting our views on ourselves and one another.
Throughout the years I’ve worked directly with technology-dependent clients and clients who’ve been destroyed by these mediums. At the same time, I’ve worked to keep up with technology in a relevant manner. Unlike many treatment issues technology is one of the fastest developing and secure industries in our world. Think of how many individuals in your life utilize a computer, smartphone, app of any kind. Many of our school systems communications, work environments, medical records, and personal information are more and more digitized requiring us to utilize the technology to keep on track with all the information which is readily available to us.

What can we do about this now?
Having time when we engage and disengage with technology is a way to embrace what’s upon us, while holding onto the privileged of time without technology. Lead by example as an elder in our community by keeping your phone away during conversations, having technology-free zones or times in your own homes, set times or family experiences where all are offline and connecting in a different manner. Conversely have times when all are engaging with technology. Share information about what you’re learning online or in your social circles. Encourage your children to share and have them talk about what they are seeing and experiencing. The normalizing of both allows there to be access to further discussions and experiences regarding this. Talk with your peers about what they are seeing and how they are using technology in their own parenting.

I’ve been pushing my team and those I work with to push back and harness the benefits of both technology and the solutions which lie beyond the realms of technology. In fact, I’ve spent the majority of my career with clients whose first step in the treatment process is to turn over all their technology and access to the daily world. The benefits from this have been well documented and an awakening occurs when one removed from all technology and known comforts. Having seen this for decades, as significant as the reality of what occurs in natural environments is, so too is the reality all experience as they transition back to a family system, peer group, and future based more and more on technology and social media.

We’ve all seen the speed and effectiveness these outlets have had in destroying an individual, the same can be said for the speed this can be used to enhance and build up an individual. As we develop more ways for clients to access support, resources, opportunities, and acceptance, we will see the benefits of utilizing social outlets in a productive manner. In the coming months, it’s our hope to download more and more real stories about individuals pushing back into the dynamics coming out of these issues and added complex issues facing us as a society. As others watch the several hundreds of millions of posts which have occurred since you started reading this it seems we have opportunity in front of us.
Educating one another and sharing knowledge around this topic as we are going through this simultaneously may very way lead to a healthier and more productive outcome for someone you know or don’t tomorrow. Your welcome to write in and request to have specific topics addressed, share an experience, or would like to be interviewed for our podcasts. For added information or to share your the ideas surrounding this topic please email