- Published on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 08:33
- Written by Nur Sakinah Mohd Farit
WE are, by now, used to the criticism on online social media networking and how it basically affects effective parenting no thanks to children who are more focused onto the screens of their mobile phones or laptop computers.
There are advantages and there are the lowdown that one has to consider since we are still at the dawn of the knowledge era.
Truth be told, social media is undeniable the current big thing in our life. In fact, we tend to almost fall into the pit of boredom without Internet access for just 5 minutes.
Now, try putting yourself in this situation and reflect. Can you put your phone away while having dinner with your family? For at least, three minutes?
Take this incident for your reflection. Recently, in the US, a father totally forgot about his son in the car because he was busy getting aroused, ‘sexting’* with several girls. The verdict, his son died strapped to his car seat under the hot baking sun!
If you think that is horrifying enough, but happened elsewhere, chew on this: In conjunction to this, the recent kidnapping cases in Malaysia have been associated largely to this issue. I’m sure now you’re wondering how can social media be a tool for kidnapping, right?
I still remember back in 2009 when Facebook was a total hit! I was at college, and while scrolling through the Timeline, I received a friend request from my mother!
My feeling? I was in a state of shock in addition to emotional distress in figuring out which other sibling of mine taught my mum of Facebook. It took me awhile to approve her request. At that time as an insecure teenager, I felt my privacy was invaded.
LEARNING FROM HISTORY
Today, I can say my mum spends more time on Facebook and Instagram than me. I hardly open my Facebook account if there’s nothing urgent. It seems I’m already in the phase where I think it’s time to put a full stop on the social media.
Nevertheless, things turned out differently for my 60-year-old mum. She can’t detach herself from sharing almost everything online!
On the bright side, I’m blessed to be raised in the era where social media was nowhere to be found. Growing up in the 90s (when online social media was still at its infancy) made me a person who appreciates spending quality time with my family.
I’d rather stay home and be in touch with them directly rather than be outside of the house and everyone seems to do their own business.
It’s likely that more and more parents opt to spend their time largely on social media. I’m not saying it’s wrong but my main concern is actually whether they spend enough quality time with their children. Are they aware of this?
On several occasions, I have seen the usual activities of parents who bringing their kids to the playground and spending their time there. To an ordinary observer, it looks like they’re being a good parent who spends a partial of their busy hours with their children. But, what usually happen is when they let their children play unattended closely while the parents are busy with their mobile phones.
You would have seen such instances where some even sit on the bench and scroll through their Instagram timeline, while others are busy updating their statuses on Facebook.
This is a silent virus that may fulfill your pleasure now but can actually distort your child’s development in the long run.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS ALL GOOD, BUT...
We all acknowledge that social media has provide us with various kinds of benefit. For example, the latest and current news is easily updated through the social media. Even a missing child’s poster would go viral on social media within seconds because we know our society is concerned and care for others.
Despite all the benefit gained, we should also be aware of the the downside of social media coming from parents. All this while, the spotlight has always been on the children. And they are not fully at fault.
We see parents nowadays love to portray their personal life on the social media without taking into account that their safety or even worse, the family’s safety.
According to Dr Suzana Mohd Hoesni, a senior lecturer in Psychology and Human Development from The National University of Malaysia, this trend occurs not only to the young parents but also to the elder ones.
“Even older parents now have social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter. They love to share everything they do to the world.
“However, if they’re too immersed with this, one day it won’t be a surprise if they have actually forgotten their role at home as a parent,” she said.
Not only that, most parents are already addicted to social media to the point that they even check their accounts while at the dinner table. Naturally, this is not quite the mature attitude one would expect from fathers and mothers and for this, they need to have self-control and be a bit more disciplined as not to pass on bad examples to their broods.
This was elaborated more by Dr Suzana who noted that this has become a very common sight in everywhere.
“Nowadays, even before you have your meal you’ll take a photo of it. The parents, then, share the images on social media.
“I expect parents to be more mature and disciplined when it comes to this (issue). It seems they are falling into the pit of social media addiction,” she noted.
Social media has become a barrier not only to parent-children relationship but also relationship between couples. Dr Suzana claimed that more and more couples are spending and enjoying most of their time with their phones rather than having direct interaction with their partner or their children.
It is inevitable that younger generations that embraced the knowledge era are now parents themselves, and it is part of their lifestyle as they stepped onto adulthood to be attached to the social media so much that they tend to be carried away. And it is not exactly a comfortable situation for now.
Every parent is concerned of their child’s development but the environment currently is not the same as they themselves went through their childhood. Social media networking is something they can never relate to as they are in the midst of embracing it themselves.
The curiosity and excitement in being on the “happening” scene, make these parents spend less time with their children and only communicate with them when they need to usually via the mobile devices.
Depending on one’s outlook, this could be forward thinking or just plain unhealthy way of bringing up children. It differs, depending on the society that we are living in.
I’m actually feeling blessed to be raised in the 90s where social media hardly existed (it was just starting out, not hitting our country yet). It was an era of personal interaction and I had plenty of private moments with my parents. It makes me wonder if children nowadays are able to experience this with their parents who are too busy on social media.
Children learn the best from their parents before they step into the outside world, i.e. the school. Their first social contact begins with their parents and thus, their main source of social knowledge before schooling.
Children communicate with their parents since they were a baby, it is inevitable. They start with cooing, which develop into babbling as words slowly start trickling out of their voice-box thanks to the influene of their parents indulgence in teaching them the art of communication. At this critical and sensitive period, if children aren’t able to receive enough positive stimulants, this will lead to a long-term effect on them such as indulgence in anti-social activities because they don’t know how to mingle around in the community that they are living in, let alone, the school they are bound to be educated by. Not only that, they will seek attention from anyone outside of the house, other than the parents.
You wouldn't want others to be the most trusted person in your child’s life, would you? At the end of the day, only you can make the change as parents.
IMPORTANCE OF SPENDING QUALITY TIME WITH CHILDREN
There should be no excuse when it comes to spending time with your children. Parents nowadays tend to ‘neglect’ their children during weekdays to keep up with their daily working requirement to the point that they tend to forget bigger responsibility waiting at home.
This leads to the dilemma where many parents cannot tell the likes and dislikes of their children due to lack of quality time together. When you spend more time with your children, it boosts their self-esteem and self-worth leading to the children’s closer bond with your good selves.
This will allow parents to better understand their children's need and what talent is hidden inside them that can help to your future plan for them in the right direction.
A case in point would be a mother of four, Nur Azza, 37 who admits that she is only active on social media after her children’s bedtime. Not only that, her teenage son and daughter, aged 18 and 13 respectively are open with her in any issues they are going through.
“The only time I spend on social media is when I’m done reading books to my children or after their bed time.
“I believe by balancing myself as a parent and a friend to them help me gain their trust. They have nothing to hide from me,” said Azza who’s expecting another baby girl in August.
Azza, who also has younger broods, a daughter and son aged 8 and 6 respectively, said her family time during the weekend is very important to her and her husband.
“Apparently, this is the only proper time that we get to spend as a family and have fun!
“Usually during the school days, my husband and I would take turns to send our children to school so that both of us spend equal time with each child,” she noted.
Quality is in no way equal to quantity. As long as you interact with your children and provide attention to them, that is more than enough to make them satisfied. It is apparent that the teens who grew up with online social media networking are now in their parenthood, and have brought their online addiction while becoming a parent: somewhat questioning misplaced priority.
Still, nothing beats face to face talk with the young ones, with love that can only be conveyed physically through your gestures and voice.
Even a small pep talk in the car can actually make your child happy and feel loved. No online social media networking can beat that physical warmth.
So parents, get your priorities right! Spend more time with your children and less on your social media!
*sending suggestive text messages, for sexual reason, of course. The incident reported here.