10 things you wish your parents knew about the way you use tech

Two young people work on laptops

Talking to your family about tech use

Talking to your family about the way you use digital and social media can sometimes feel like banging your head against a brick wall. Your parents might be tech-savvy themselves, but they’re from a different generation and have never grown up in a world where smartphones are like an extra limb, and social media is one of the main ways of communicating. So agreeing on these issues can be hard.

What do parents worry about?

Parents often worry that their kids are “killing brain cells” with too much screen time, or that they’re making themselves vulnerable to dangerous people, or offensive online content.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if your parents could understand where you’re coming from, so they wouldn’t worry so much? Of course, there are important issues about safety and mental health to consider, but there are also really exciting and positive things about having access to technology and social media. Digital tools and apps can offer a way of learning, a chance to build communities and hours of entertainment.

We talked to a group of 16-19 year olds who told us exactly what they wished they could tell their parents about the way they use digital and social media.

10 things you wish your parents understood

One of the best things about social media is that it’s a safe space where you can express yourself and explore your identity.

Social media is also a space away from your parents, where you can be independent – you’d rather they didn’t pop up and like your friend’s posts, or tag you in comments, thanks.

You want to feel trusted by your parents and when they try and control your screen time, it makes you feel like you’re being treated like a child.

You can use social media to study! Your parents might assume that if you’re on your phone late at night, for example, that you’re not working. But you could be chatting in a Whatsapp study group, or using a revision app.

You can build positive relationships online, and even close friendships, which are not always valued by your parents because they are nervous about you talking to strangers.

You’re more savvy than your parents think you are about the dangers that exist online and are pretty clued up about how to avoid them, so there’s no need to worry so much.

Social media has bad press, but it’s not all negative; most of the media stories are written by an older generation who don’t understand what it means to be using social media as a young person.

Facebook isn’t “better” than Instagram for young people to use. Your parents might understand and relate to it more but there are positives and negatives to every platform.

If your parents began a constructive conversation about the way you use digital, you wouldn’t mind (you just hate being told off all the time).

Sometimes it feels like there’s a double standard, as your parents can be phone and social media addicts too and don’t apply the same rules they set for you to themselves. If you can agree on rules that work for the whole family it wouldn’t be so bad to put your phone down more often.

How can I help my parents understand?

Do you agree with this list? It might help to read it out to the family, or send it to your parents so they can understand your perspective.

Another way to lead this conversation in your family is through using a brand-new digital toolkit, which is full of activities to help young people and their families talk through their issues with digital and social media. We’ve teamed up with Facebook and ParentZone to create this tool and we’ve tested it with young people and parents to make it as useful as possible. Head here to find out more.

If you want to talk about this, or anything else, The Mix offer free and confidential support and we’re here to listen and to talk.

Head here to read our interview with a young person about us of social media and digital within her family.

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By Holly Turner

Updated on 04-Sep-2020