Social Media Is NOT Neutral For Teens
Here's a question we have to start asking ourselves as parents; who do we want our kids to have as friends. In most cases, as our children grow older, they begin to spend more time with friends and their friends become a MAJOR influence in their life.
So do we want our kids to have a group of "nice" friends who enjoy playing video games, watching TV, hanging out, and doing "fun stuff" the majority of the time? ...Or do want to see our children spending time with peers who challenged them to improve mentally, physically, and socially in a positive way.
For example, your teenage son has two best friends; Bruce and Patrick. Bruce is on the wrestling team, the basketball team, he has a 3.7 GPA in school, and has recently launched an online t-shirt business; some people think he's a little "cocky" and not so "nice". Patrick doesn't like sports or exercise; he's 50lbs overweight, sleeps till Noon on the weekends, has a 2.8 GPA, and runs away from anything that looks hard or high pressure; but he's a "nice" kid.
Bruce and Patrick aren't friends because they have little in common. Who do you want your child to spend the majority of their time with and what's the potential outcome? Although we don't know for sure, we can speculate that more time with Patrick would mean "investing" more time into activities that are fun today but won't help in the future. We can also speculate that more time with Bruce would involve more challenging, "pressure-filled" activities, that may not be as "fun" today, but the experiences will help him in the future.
So is it bad to be "nice" or have "nice" friends; of course not! I think that everyone should be respectful and care about others, but just being "nice" doesn't mean that someone should be allowed into your inner circle. I'm constantly teaching our kids that there are no "neutral people" in your life. The people that you spend significant time with are either pushing you towards, or they are pulling you away from reaching your goals, dreams, and full life potential.
As parents, we cannot choose our children's friends for them in most cases. But we can take some ownership in the process of selecting friends by enrolling our children into schools, programs, activities, and events where they will be "growth challenged" and surrounded by peers who are being "growth challenged."
We are preparing our children to enter into an overly populated, highly competitive, and rapidly changing global economy; simply being "nice" is not enough.