Social contagions aren’t what they used to be

Although social contagion’s and adolescent shenanigans are nothing new, in our social media centered age parents must be more cautious when confronted with such topics.

In adolescents and young adults parts of the brain are not fully formed yet. The amygdala, that sits deep inside the brain plays a role in aggressive, instinctual and risk-taking behavior, which appears to be fully active early on. The prefrontal cortex however, which is located behind the eyes plays an important role in the ability to plan ahead and see the consequences of one’s behavior, doesn’t operate fully until about the age of 25.

With social media becoming an institutional part of an adolescence life, as parents we must take cautionary steps to ensure their safety and well-being. Social media can give adolescents a feeling of connectedness and community.

To find a happy medium between social media and parenting here are a few steps that can mitigate the conversations and help navigate through some of the more complex topics.

-Instead of having planned conversations try having relaxed conversations while driving walking or doing chores at home. These can add less stress to conversations.

-Rather than focusing conversations on what your child is doing, revert focus to what they are seeing be it online, in school, or during extracurricular activities.

-Try to be non-judgmental with topics and get them to critically think about their actions and the consequences they may have.

-Limiting screen time is important for an adolescent to ensure that they get the proper amount of sleep needed. Lack of sleep can cause irritability, poor school performance, and physical effects on the body. Modeling this behavior as a parent will help the adolescent unplug more comfortably.

-As parents, we must accept the fact that we can’t monitor our child’s activity 100% of the time. We must come to terms with our own anxieties and allow our children some freedom for their own growth and development. But be prepared to have non-blaming/shaming conversations about their mistakes.

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