By Debby Shulman
Our middle son made a comment to me that really stuck. He remarked that his sister seemed to be growing up ‘faster’ than he and his older brother had. He felt that social media had become so influential and inescapable and that his sister seemed too overwhelmed to handle it well.
Honey, Quit Facebook
He was right. Since August, when our youngest started her freshman year of high school, we had noticed a more intense interest in Facebook. We also noticed that it affected her demeanor. She felt the hurt of being left out and she obsessed over which pictures she should post. Truthfully, I didn’t like it one bit. I am happily connected on Facebook and use it modestly. I monitor what I post very carefully. My Facebook friends include my close friends, students, colleagues, my children and extended family. Likewise, my older boys are very careful about what they post. So the example my teenage daughter was following was not coming from home.
Facebook is a false, unrealistic façade that encourages a bizarre obsession with what everybody else is doing and where they are doing it. I watched my daughter turn into someone who was consumed with checking in — in the car, late at night and when she should have been doing homework. So, my husband and I took it away. Gone. Disconnected.
Pulling the Plug
She hardly whispered a complaint. In fact, I think she actually felt relieved. Now she could return to her focus on school and working hard. Although she had always been a dedicated student, her grades were starting to slip because of her inability to regulate the time she was on the phone or computer. I wasn’t keen on watching it play out too much longer and when we finally pulled the plug, she became happier and more involved with our family again. Her studies no longer took a backseat to Facebook. Algorithms, biology and the history of Asian civilizations came back on the menu. Once again, student council and lacrosse are her priorities and she is taking them very seriously.
Our daughter needed parent intervention to help regulate use of social media. She needed to see what she could accomplish off Facebook. At 10:30 every night, we watch her waltz in, plug in her phone and laptop and head off to bed. Having those items in her room at night were too much of a distraction. Our son was right – she could not handle it on her own.
Have the courage to help out your teen…even if it means taking them off Facebook. It is a dangerous and addictive obsession. Helping our daughter get her life back will continue to pay off as she matures into a confident and secure young lady.
Debby Dresner Shulman is a private tutor and college essay consultant with a private practice in Northbrook, Illinois. Find out more at DebbyShulman.com.