As your kids grow, so too does the space between you. It’s a natural progression that can sometimes feel the furthest thing from ‘natural’. Throw divorce in the mix and you might as well buy a megaphone to be heard across the chasm that can emerge.
However, using social media to foster closeness with your kids offers you the opportunity to attempt to close this gap. If done right, you may get some semblance of communication that feels normal enough to make you breathe a sigh of relief.
What the Brains Say
A study by Brigham Young University regarding parent-child social media relations is being cited across the digital parenting universe. Reported in the journal, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, this study found that being connected to your child through social media can be a positive experience. It stated “higher pro-social behavior, lower relational aggression, and [lower] internalizing behavior” as a result. Lead author, Dr. Sarah M. Coyne, describes some aspects of the parent-child social media relationship:
- Social networks give an intimate look at your teenager’s life.
- Half of the teens in our study reported being on social network sites with their parents.
- The more frequently parents used social media to interact with teens, the stronger the connection.
- Keep it at the level that’s appropriate and respectful of what the teen wants.
Get on their Digital Plane
You may be texting and emailing like a pro but tween/teen social media is a whole other animal. In the case of a parental separation, you and your partner need to work out your differences offline. According to an America Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers study, over 80% of divorce lawyers use social media to make a case for or against a spouse. So instead of those petty social media posts, more attention needs to be paid to your kids online.
Start with a family night video game session to get the ball rolling, especially when your child may be struggling with emotions related to your divorce. Believe it or not, eliminating your “technophobia” comments and replacing them with positive observations and attempts, such as digital family interaction, can go a long way.
Keep it Simple
It’s no surprise that anger is a common response when kids experience the fallout of a divorce. Anger can manifest in the obvious ways such as challenging authority, but it can also present as depression, passive/aggressive behavior and even overachieving. Therefore, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to communicate with your child through social media you may see posts that make you want to intervene.
Aside from serious concerns, such as something alluding to them harming themselves, keep your posts simple. Don’t try to offer sugar coated puppy videos or syrupy sayings you found, simply let them know you are there and that you support them without acting too much like an online parent.
The last thing you want is to compound the situation by embarrassing them during such a difficult time. If you want to use something like Facebook to connect with friends and are posting things that are uncool in the eyes of your child, consider opening a separate account.
By Tara Heath