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Christian Living

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Three Social Media Conversations You Need to Have with Your Daughter

Kari Kampakis - Author

Maybe your daughter is already online. Maybe she's begging for an account. Maybe she isn't there yet, but you know it won't be long. Whatever the case may be in your home, social media is a topic you'll eventually need to address.

As parents we face a choice. We can either wish for the good ol' days when social media didn't exist – or accept that it's part of the world our daughters are growing up in. We can fixate on the negatives and the horror stories we hear – or see the potential for good that anyone can tap into.

I personally lean toward the latter approaches. I believe our daughters were created to live in the digital age. And while we certainly must protect them by establishing online rules and parameters, we also need to empower them to become responsible digital citizens.

How? By having conversations – many conversations. Being smart online is really a matter of being conscientious and helping our daughters (and sons) think through the choices they make that will shape their online reputation. 

Here are three conversations I recommend having with your daughter. Whether she's familiar with social media or just learning the ropes, these can provide a starting point for deeper dialogue.

1. Being on social media is like being on stage with a microphone. If you wouldn't say something into a microphone at a school assembly, then you shouldn't write it or post it online.

Many teens hurt themselves by posting rude, crude, or inappropriate things. They pay the price when they apply for college, jobs, or prestigious organizations and lose important opportunities because a Google search of their name reveals a history of poor judgement or a lack of character.

Everything you share – even privately in Snapchat – creates a digital record tied to your name. Everything can potentially go viral. And while good online choices will ultimately open doors for you, poor choices will close doors. These mistakes could easily be avoided if you think before you post.

2. If you rely on social media to build you up, you also give it power to break you down.

The truth is, people are fickle. People can love you one day and curse you the next. And if you spend your life "living for the like," you put yourself at the mercy of other people. You let their moods and opinions dictate your confidence – and wind up on an emotional roller coaster with no security or predictability.

The better (and wiser) option is to enjoy social media for what it is: a fun way to connect with friends, but not an indicator of self-worth. Base your confidence on what is real and reliable, like God's timeless truths, instead of fluctuating numbers and fleeting praise that will never satisfy you for long.

3. Social media should enrich your life. If scrolling through a news feed causes you more heartache than pleasure, then it's time to get off.

It's no secret that social media can stir up feelings of jealousy, insecurity, rejection, and comparison. Especially when you're feeling down on yourself, it can be painful to see those posts that make you feel left out or inadequate.

Rather than torture yourself online, pull back and take a break. Learn to recognize when the best moments of other people's lives are blinding you to your personal blessings. By taking control of your emotions – and setting boundaries with social media – you learn to look out for yourself in healthy and productive ways.

Above all, our daughters should view social media as a platform to help others. Many people online are searching for something to lift their spirits or help them escape from a hard life/bad day. By sharing messages of love or hope – and acting as encouragers, not critics – girls learn to use their voice for good and positively impact their peers.

This, in turn, inspires others to do the same and attracts fellow encouragers since "your vibe attracts your tribe." It also sets our daughters up for a positive future, one in which they can later look back and be proud of their social media choices and the path they chose to take.

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