Suncorp Team Girls and Social Media
22 July 2021
Rebecca Sparrow is Suncorp’s #TeamGirls ambassador and a best-selling author, columnist, podcast host and passionate advocate for teenage girls. Rebecca regularly visits high schools to present to students, and has developed a range of resources to help girls navigate their way through their formative years.
When your daughter is the only one without social media …
Post-game can be a tricky time (read: emotionally exhausting) for a range of reasons. Sometimes it’s because your daughter’s team played well and still lost. Sometimes it’s because they crashed and burned on court and were just unable to get it together. Sometimes it’s because the coach dished out a bit of tough-love feedback which is never easy to hear. And sometimes? Well, sometimes it’s because from the moment you leave the courts until you get home that you’re being pecked to death with requests for social media.
- But everyone else has Instagram/Snapchat/Tiktok!
- I’m the ONLY person on our team not allowed to post videos!
- You’re a hypocrite! You’re on your phone ALL THE TIME!
- So, this is because you don’t trust me?
And on and on AND ON it goes. #Arewethereyet? #Makeitstop
Deciding if and when your child gets a social media account is a really individual decision. But as digital health and wellbeing expert Dr Kristy Goodwin says, “I’ve never met a parent who has regreted delaying access to a smartphone or social media. But I’ve met plenty who wish they could turn the clock back and not hand certain apps or devices over.”
So how do you navigate this conversation with your tween or teen? Here are a few tips:
- Listen to your child’s concerns without interrupting. Remember what it was like being a teen when you desperately wanted to fit in. Let your child have their say.
- Explain to your child the minimum age for most apps is 13. This isn’t because that’s the age when people become mature enough to handle social media. It’s the legal age when big tech companies can start collecting your data (including with some apps faceprints and voice prints)
- Do they have a solid, reliable friendship group? A friendship group fond of drama, exclusion and mean behaviour in the school yard will only be transferred online. Social media doesn’t fix friendship issues. It anything it magnifies it. So what? So, it means you’ll be dealing with more painful behaviour not just at school but also when you’re at home and into the evening. Many girls use social media platforms as another weapon to wound people.
- Are you resilient? FOMO (fear of missing out) is one thing. KNOWING you’re missing out is another. Checking Insta and seeing evidence of your friends hanging out without you is incredibly painful. Can you handle it?
- How’s your emotional regulation? Is your child likely to be able to stick to boundaries with when and how the app is used?
If you do decide to say YES to social media, remember to go slow and start as you mean to continue. That means:
- No devices in bedrooms or bathrooms
- Head to the Esafety Commission website to check out privacy settings for the phone or app and how to report bullying and predators.
- Write out and have everyone sign a contract on when and how the app/device will be used. For example, no access past 8pm. No phones at the dinner table or in the car. Do Not Disturb mode while studying. Grownups have all passwords.
- Basic phone etiquette like not bombarding friends with messages after school. And no posting photos without the permission of those featured.
- Follow the social media and digital wellbeing experts like Safe On Social, Dr Kristy Goodwin, The Cyber Safety Lady and ReachOut
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