I’ve been a teenager all week, and I don’t mean metaphorically. My daughter, 13, is on her seventh grade field trip. I can tell you how AWESOME it was to come back from a week at the beach only to have to quickly do laundry and pack up for another week away for her – but I’ll spare you the details.
Before she left, and during the time she was supposed to be focused on packing what was on the very specific list, she asked me to keep track of her Snap Streaks for her. She said she’s been keeping up with these streaks for months and really doesn’t want to lose them.
Ok, I get it. This sounds ridiculous if you are older than about 22. But she’s 13 (as evidenced by the photo of her at her recent Bat Mitzvah).
She actually gave me instructions on how to make sure I didn’t mess this up, as if I don’t own a social media company. And I’ll be honest… I was a little nervous. It’s tough to be a teenager and keep up with all these snapchat people. I thought, “This is how they communicate. This is how she keeps in touch with her camp friends.” Then I remember how I used to have to beg, borrow and plead to make a long-distance call after 8pm to a friend from camp and it reminds me how lucky these kids are today – and how easy they have it in this regard.
We had an in-depth discussion about the platform and why it’s so enticing to teenagers. I don’t always relate to it, I’ll be honest. I’m a scrapbooker, I hoard my photos. If I don’t have a photo of something, in my mind, it didn’t really exist. I take photos with the mindset of “what will this look like in my 2017 scrapbook?” I don’t get why they like the photos that “go away” (notice the quotes and note they don’t ever actually go away). Then she left for her trip.
I started snapping. Seriously? THESE are the pictures they are sending to each other to communicate? Poorly lit, blurry photos that just say “streaks” across them? There’s no storyline, no content, just random photos. Of course, then it occurred to me that maybe that’s what they’re sending because they know it’s me covering for her all week. But then again….
My point here is that simply because you don’t understand teenagers today or their mode of communication, it’s important to understand that in their world, this is how it’s done. Focusing on the number of snaps in a streak is sometimes more important than the snap, itself. To them, this is what’s important today and now. So, before we judge and say that social media has ruined our kids, stop and look at what it does do for them and try to get inside their heads and understand it better. Then, guide them. Teach them what’s appropriate and what’s not. Remind them that they are not anonymous behind the keyboard (and remember plenty of adults need a reminder of this too).
I’ll say this: I’m really excited for her to come home tomorrow and take this extra phone off my hands. It’s a lot of pressure!