Ok, so I know there are plenty of aspects of online social networks that are problematic.
Particularly for teens.
But sometimes I reflect on ways in which online social networks, and our smartphones, afford layers of connection between myself and my three children (12, 14 and 17) which give me unmitigated joy and delight.
Things are expressed that would never be said face to face.
Experiences can be shared even when we are far apart.
We can collaborate in novel and pleasurable ways.
Here are just ten examples…
- Sharing special moments from afar – the time when my daughter allowed me to share her first experience of Glastonbury festival by sending me WhatsApp video clips of the moment when she met her favourite music artist
- Helping each other out – all the times when my daughter asks for my advice on her clothing purchases via Facetime from shop dressing rooms
- Bad humour– the atrocious comedy memes and GIFs via WhatsApp from my son
- Saying what can’t be said in person – my daughter congratulating me on passing my PhD viva via text message when she could only be tetchy to my face
- Liking my stuff – when my son hearts my Instagram posts and his friends (bizarrely) start following my account
- Keeping a close but surreptitious eye – my daughter blocking me on Facebook only to allow her BFF to friend me so that she can spy on my posts via her account
- Sharing the love – my daughter sending me heart emojis and telling me she loves me via WhatsApp when she will never say it to my face
- Being brave from a distance – my daughter’s boyfriend chatting to me on private message via Instagram when he’s too shy to speak to me in person
- Being social with social media – all of us sitting in a restaurant messing about with Face Swap and sharing silly photos on Snapchat over a meal
- Just plain not right… – my daughter’s boyfriend liking one of my posts on Instagram only to have it swiftly removed by said daughter on account of the facT she didn’t approve (yes she does have the password to his account)
They are small moments, but moments nonetheless, when online social networks and our smartphones bring us closer together when we could be far apart.
When it’s so easy to get consumed by the problematic stuff, I like to remind myself of that which can be delightful too.