May 25, 2018

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May 21, 2018

Should You Ban Your Kids From Social Media?

The short answer is no, for the long answer, please continue reading.

Banning = Secret Accounts


Now hear me out. I am not saying you shouldn't limit their access or moderate them. You should do those things, but not allowing it at all is just asking for trouble in the long run.

Banning social media is a lot like abstinence-only education. They are not going to listen to you, so why not give them the resources needed to prevent unwanted outcomes? Talk to them about what is safe and not safe.

Get the apps yourself! Try them out, see what it does and learn how to use it. Read the terms and learn how to change the privacy settings. The more familiar you are with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and whatever new crazy app there is, the less scary it becomes.

I still don't agree with going the ban route even if you talk to them because they will just create secret accounts you have no knowledge of and if something they aren't sure about pops up, they aren't going to be able to go to you for help as they will fear being punished, which could potentially put them in danger.

Secret accounts may still happen if you let them have social media as kids want to hide things from their parents. Think back when you were a kid, I bet there was a lot you did that your parents don't' know about to this day! However, I like to believe that if something super uncomfortable popped up, like that suicide YouTube video that happened awhile back, a child would be more inclined to talk to their parent who is open to social media rather than one who is not, as they would be more afraid of the repercussions for not following the rules.

Child Grooming


If you are afraid of child grooming or predators, educate your child about these things and teach them to never give out personal information to people they don't know. I wouldn't go as far as to say they can't talk to strangers at all, some of the best friends I have made were over the internet! I was an introvert growing up and making friends was difficult, having that online community really helped me and without it, I probably would have been a depressed teen.

I'm going to share an embarrassing story now of what happened to me as a young teen, one that only a select few know. I actually did have an internet crush and found out we lived in the same state. I don't know if my parents were really open to social media as it just started popping up when I was a teen, but they weren't strict about it so I felt comfortable enough to talk to them about meeting my online friend at a park (with my parents present of course). They agreed, but it fell through as he made up some story that may or may not have been true.

My parents then explained to me the dangers of talking to strangers online and so I deleted him (or it could have been a woman, who knows?) and we never spoke again, and I never tried to meet anyone I met online again. I did still talk to people online because my friends didn't share all the same interests as me. I needed that social interaction, but I knew to only keep it online from that point on and to never share personal information.

If my parents had just decided to ban social media, I may have tried to sneak off to meet him alone, which is what happens in a lot of those child abductions and pedophile cases. Don't let that happen to your child. Talk to them about the dangers, don't just ban social media and think that will be the solution.

I would have loved for someone to have told me the dangers before I started chatting with people online, but unfortunately, I was part of the guinea pig generation and didn't get the talk until after the fact. At least my experience will help me when it comes to raising my daughter in this internet age.

Cyberbullying


If you are worried about cyberbullying, then you need to focus on bullying in the real world. Online bullying is just schoolyard bullying taken to the internet. These are people your child already knows! It is very rare and uncommon for someone to just randomly bully a stranger online, and if so, it is easier to block a random person than someone you see every day in school. Just because your child isn't on social media, doesn't mean they won't get bullied (source). I was actually bullied in school, but never online. By the time I was on social media, I was a teen and already avoiding those people.

Instead of trying to shield your child, teach them how to handle a bully and better yet, teach them how not to be a bully. Bullies are often a result of a bad home life. Their actions are actually more of a cry for help. If you want to raise kind kids, then you need to show them how to be a kind person. I believe that children are a reflection of their parents, so be the best role model you can be.

You can read more about bullying my previous post here.

Education is Key


Banning social media or even more extreme, the internet, will also severely limit your kid in our technology-driven world. They won't know how to navigate or use the online world like their peers, which may put them at a disadvantage depending on what career path they take. Many jobs now also only have applications available online as it saves, money, time and paper.

I also feel a lot of people, especially parents, just have this huge fear of the internet and social media. As a blogger, I am on these daily. I use almost all the sites so I know all the rules, which ones have more privacy, which ones are safer, and I have seen what is on there, which for the most part, is not all that bad. Maybe that is why I am more comfortable with the idea of my daughter being on social media in the future?

I think more parents would feel more comfortable with social media as well if they used it, so I highly encourage you, if you aren't already, to get on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, and whatever apps kids are using today and learn how to use them. The more informed you are, the better you will feel about your child being on them and be able to educate them on how to use them safely and properly.

I will agree that not all apps are safe, Snapchat crosses the line with its "disappearing" pictures, but I think your best bet is to just educate your child that those pictures don't actually just "disappear." However, the moment you tell them not to use it is the moment they will start finding a way to get on it, so you just kind of have to hope you can teach your child the dangers and have faith that they are intelligent enough to use it in a safe way.

Final Thoughts


I do believe in age limits, but I think you are pushing it once your child becomes a teenager. I also think if you are really adamant about your child not using social media, then you shouldn't be on it either as it comes across as hypocritical. If it is as bad as you make it out to be, why are you on it? It could also be seen as you don't trust your child, which further distances them from you.

In the end, it is your decision, but as someone who grew up just when social media started popping up, I somehow managed to learn how to play it safe. Sure I made a mistake, we all do, but luckily I had parents I could turn to.

Kids today don't have to be the guinea pigs as most will have parents who have used social media, so they will have plenty of guidance, which will help them make safer and better choices online.


More Sources


Should You Bad Your Kids From Social Media?
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May 10, 2018

$100 Splash Into Cash Summer Break Giveaway

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May 4, 2018

Anxiety Mindtraps & Tips To Counter Them

May is Mental Health Awareness month so I felt it was time to share a post on anxiety as this is something I personally struggle with and I do see a therapist for my anxiety.

I hesitated to share these tips before as I believe that if you think you have a problem, you should seek medical help and not rely on advice on the internet. However, I also feel that some people have anxiety and may not realize it.

I am sharing this information in hopes that if any of these strongly resonate with you that you do seek out a medical professional. Also, keep in mind, what worked for me, may not work for you. There are many levels of anxiety and many different types of anxiety. Sometimes medication is necessary and just changing your thought process may not work.

Common Mindtraps Associated With Anxiety


Catastrophising


This is when you make a situation worse than it actually is. You imagine the worst possible outcome and are constantly thinking "what if." 

This can be in the present moment. For example, your child is climbing up the ladder to go down the slide, and the whole time you are thinking: "what if he falls?" "what if he breaks an arm?" "what if he dies?" when the reality is they design playground equipment so it is safe for kids and he has probably done the same thing many times before without a problem, so the chance of him falling is very low. 

Or this could be worrying about the future. For example, your kid failed a test and suddenly your thinking "what if he never gets into college?" "If he doesn't go to college, he won't get a job" "If he doesn't get a job, then what?" When the reality is it is just one test and he can make up for it, maybe he just needs a little extra help. 

This was something I struggled with and I still do, but I am now able to catch myself when it happens. Just noticing when you are beginning to "what if" can help counter the anxiety. Another tip is to grab a piece of paper and start writing down all your fears, then you can physically look at them and realize that you are worrying too much. Sometimes just hearing myself say it out loud makes me realize how ridiculous I am being. I highly recommend you talk to your therapist about your "what ifs" and they can help you work around them.

Polarised (Black and White) Thinking


Sometimes also known as "All or Nothing" thinking. This is when you believe there are only right or wrong outcomes. Either something is really good or really bad, there is no "gray" or in-between area. For example, you entered a race and got second place, which is still great, but since it is not first, you see it as failing.

This kind of thinking affected me more so growing up as I had the classic "Tiger Mom" who wanted straight As and if we didn't get that, there was a lot of verbal abuse, so even seeing a B made me feel worthless and not good enough, getting a C was basically failing.

Just graduating college and no longer living with my parents helped me overcome this thinking, as those were what caused my anxiety. If you, however, find yourself thinking this way, take the time to make a chart, write the good thing on one side and the bad thing on the other, then force yourself to find something you can put in between. This will help you realize that there are a lot of "levels" between black and white. You could even get out a crayon box and pick out all the shades of white, gray, and black as a visual. Talk to your therapist if you feel you can't find the "gray" area and they can help. Also, if you can, remove the people or things in your life that are causing you to think this way. You don't need that negativity in your life.

Filtering


This is when you focus on all the negatives in a situation while filtering out the positives. For example, you and your husband are preparing for a date night and all is going well. You're having your wine and salad, then you smell something burning. The chicken is ruined. Suddenly your perfect night becomes awful as you focus on the burnt chicken. You forget about the lovely conversation you were having, and the whole night is about how the chicken was ruined.

Tips to help with filtering or tunnel vision is to stop and try and find at least one positive in the situation. Sure the chicken is ruined, but the time with your spouse was still great and the most important part right? If you make everything negative, then, of course, you are going to have negative feelings. Once you find the positive, you can laugh it off, and find another solution or let it go. If you have difficulty finding a positive to a situation, talk to your therapist.

Personalization


This is when you basically blame yourself or believe everything someone else says or does is a reaction to you. You frequently compare yourself to others. If you think you are better than someone, you feel relieved, but if you don't match up, you feel worthless.

When this happens, write down what you feel is your fault, and look for external factors. For example, instead of thinking you are at fault for your child's bad grade because you didn't make them study harder, consider that maybe your child was just having a bad day or maybe the subject is just a little too hard and he may need some extra help, or maybe the questions on the test were poorly written. You still may be at fault in some situations, but it is not solely your fault.

As for comparing yourself, this can be tough as a society this is all we do. I see it a lot as a mom now, parents comparing themselves to other parents, moms judgings moms, etc. Talk to your therapist if you need help overcoming these feelings.

Overgeneralization


This is the belief that if something happens once it will happen again. Words often used in this kind of thinking are "all," "always," "never," and "every." For example, you asked your husband to take out the garbage for the fifth time today and he didn't. You react by thinking or even voicing: "You never do anything" or "I always have to do it." This leaves you feeling frustrated, helpless, annoyed, etc. 

Not only does this kind of thinking hurt you, but it hurts the person whom your anxiety is directed at. It may be hard in the moment to stop and think about which words to use, so instead think of a moment where you thought this way and evaluate it: "Yes, my husband didn't take out the garbage today, but he does do other things. He mowed the grass yesterday." This helps you stay positive and remember to apologize for your overreaction. It is okay to let him know it annoyed you that he didn't do it right when you asked, but it is not okay for you to say "you never help" when that is not true and only puts him down. 

Jumping to Conclusions (Mindreading)


This is when you make your own assumptions as to how someone is acting the way they do towards you. For example, your friend said she would meet your for dinner, but then she didn't show up. You automatically jump to the conclusion that she is mad at you and doesn't want to be your friend anymore.  

Jumping to these conclusions often happens because you feel poorly about yourself ("Who would want to be friends with someone like me?"). The truth is your friend may have just been sick and forgot to call, or maybe she was in an accident. 

Another form of jumping to conclusions is believing something will happen when it has never happened before (overprediction). For example, you have to give a public speech, something you have never done before, and you think: "I can't go up there, I'll faint!" You have never done it before, so you can't possibly know that you are going to faint, but you believe you will anyway. 

This is one of those where I think you have to catch yourself in the moment and realize you are making conclusions when you have no hard evidence. This one can also be short lived as you may think your friend is angry at you, but then later that night she calls and lets you know that her dog got loose and she spent the whole day looking for him. Your anxiety goes away, but you basically wasted the whole day worrying about nothing. 

This is the worst mindtrap, in my opinion, because it is hard to get anything done when you are anxious and then when you find out the real reason, you are mad at yourself for being worried over nothing. I often catch myself saying "I should've..." I still struggle with this one, but I am getting better at redirecting my thoughts. Like with all of these, it got easier once I realized what I was doing. Again, these may not work for you. Please talk to a medical professional if you need help.

Attribution Error 


This is when you believe you know the reason why a person behaves the way they do when their actions may or may not be deliberate. For example, your child is hitting you, so you think "my child hates me." You are focusing on the behavior and giving it a negative attribute instead of considering what may have caused it. The reality is your child does not hate you. He just has a hard time communicating and shows his frustration by hitting you. He just wants a snack but doesn't know how to ask. 

Another form of this thinking is when you give yourself negative attributes. For example, someone gives you a compliment, but instead, you think "They are just saying that. They don't mean it." You basically just turned what should have been a positive thing into a negative thing. This also gives the person who gave you a compliment a negative attribute. You turned their kindness into spite.

You can try and counter these thoughts by asking "What may have caused that behavior or reaction?" or "What evidence is there to make me think this?" Sometimes this can be difficult as you can't always know what the cause is, especially with young kids, but try and make an effort to look for unseen causes instead of coming up with your own conclusion. If you struggle with this, talk to your therapist.

Shoulding and Musting


This is when you often think "I should," "I shouldn't," "I must," etc. You put unreasonable demands or unrealistic expectations on yourself and others. 

This is the one I am most guilty of and was the main reason I sought help after having my daughter. I constantly found myself thinking "I shouldn't feel this way, a good mom wouldn't feel this way" or "I shouldn't get angry. I shouldn't be mad." 

I struggle with the anger emotion as my mom was not good at controlling hers and it scared me growing up, and still causes my anxiety to spike to this day. I had a hard time expressing anger growing up for that reason and often kept feelings bottled up, but eventually, I would reach a tipping point. The problem was because I had no good role model for expressing anger when it did come out, it wasn't always the best way. This frustrated my husband and he would often say "If you had just told me..." 

My therapist helped me realize that it is okay to feel angry, to feel upset, everyone gets angry, it's a normal emotion. It is how we act on that anger that matters.

I still struggle with this and probably always will, but I have gotten a lot better at just letting my husband know when I am upset. I have also gotten better at managing my anxiety by reminding myself that everyone gets angry.

None of the tips I provided are "cure-alls." They are just ways to help manage your anxiety, a way for you to control it so it doesn't control you. Again, if you are struggling with any of these, please seek help from a medical professional.


Bonus Resource


The Centre for Clinical Interventions (CCI) actually has a really good activity worksheet that goes over these and a few more mind traps, which you can check out here

Anxiety Mindtraps And Tips To Counter Them