How Social Media Saved Our Daughter…
There is so much talk about social media use among young people and how the excessive use of these media are tearing away at our children’s ability to communicate effectively in person. There’s no argument that anything done in excess can be harmful. But there are some really positive aspects of social media, especially as it relates to staying connected in relationships.
Last year we made the decision as a family to move back to my husband’s hometown, leaving the only place my children have ever known. There were several factors that played into our decision, the biggest being the opportunity to be closer to family and having our son attend the school that my husband attended 30 years ago. Our daughter had just finished 6th grade and our son had just finished 5th.
It was a really hard decision to make. We LOVED our neighborhood…the place we had lived since we got married. We LOVED our network of friends…true friends that are more like family. We LOVED where our children attended elementary school…a beautiful nurturing place they both had attended since the age of 3. We LOVED our community. But the idea of creating a simpler, less chaotic life for our family was overwhelmingly appealing.
One of the cons on our list was how our 13 year old daughter would handle the move. She was leaving the only school she had ever known to attend middle school at an all girls school in another state. And she was leaving really good friends. One particular friends was her’s since birth…they met the day our daughter was born…literally, she and her parents were the first to visit us in the hospital. Their bond was strong. But would the distance start to tear away at that bond and would they be able to maintain their friendship long distance?
As a female, I get the importance of these friendship bonds. True friends are part of your root system, providing you much needed stability. These core friends are your sounding boards, your confidants and your defenders. I desperately wanted our daughter to maintain this friendship that had become part of who she was as a person. And so my husband and I agreed to let our daughter get a few social media accounts to help her maintain this friendship hundreds of miles away.
The need to have a way to stay connected really resonated with my husband. He was an Airforce kid who moved around many times during his childhood. He has fond memories of the relationships he formed in the towns where he lived but he didn’t maintain any lasting friendships. Back then you had to be really good at writing letters as that was the only way to stay connected. Your parents wouldn’t let you call your friends because long distance was so expensive. Being a PenPal was about your only option!
So these two besties continued their friendship via social media, mostly through Instagram and Snapchat. And they used Facetime…A LOT! It was a blessing really. This connection gave our daughter a way to share her frustrations and challenges with someone she could trust. She could tell her friend anything. I absolutely believe this connection helped our daughter make it through a really hard transitional year.
And the communication hasn’t stopped. We have been gone almost two years and these two girls communicate EVERY SINGLE DAY via social media. They are intertwined in each other’s lives. They share friends now in their respective cities. They Facetime nightly. There are at least 20 random snapchats sent daily. And it couldn’t make me happier!
When used for good, technology can be a strong and powerful presence in the lives of our children. While many of us as parents don’t “get” these new ways of communicating, they are here to stay. Ask your child to show you how some of these social media apps work and how they use them. Open the lines of communication with your child regarding technology. Take the time to understand them and embrace it! You never know…you might start snapchatting too!!!