Quality over quantity

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Our teenagers are growing up in a world quite different to the one that we encountered at the same age. With the invention of social media, I’ve seen the worrying trend of my teenage daughters and their friends, judging their worth based upon the number of ‘friends’/followers that they have on social media. They are constantly assessing whether photos or comments posted are rating well, expecting them to reach an acceptable level of likes in a certain amount of time. That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself! As if being a teenager isn’t already fraught with insecurity, imagine getting instant results on how popular or likeable your posts are.

I once saw a girl on social media comment that a selfy with a sarcastic comment about her looks had got minimal likes while a picture of pizza had scored more highly. I commented to the girl that her perception was a bit skewed. If lots of people liked the photo where she basically called herself ugly then she would have thought that they agreed with her. I told her that obviously her friends wouldn’t agree with that comment, therefore wouldn’t have liked it, while everyone loves a good slice of pizza!

One of the incentives to have a large number of followers on social media seems to be the associated perks. My daughter’s friend has around 15,000 followers and is constantly being sent free clothing and merchandise, being asked to tag the retailers in her photos. As is to be expected, where there is love there is hate. Whilst the majority of people like her and are positive, there are the haters that are rude and mean in their comments. No person wants to hear cruel words aimed at them, particularly for doing something as mundane as posting a photo.

I’ve always told my kids to only accept requests on social media from people who are their friends. I think a good litmus test is to ask yourself whether you would cross the street to talk to a person – if you would, then accept their friendship request, if not then why would you want to invite them into your personal world? Unfortunately, although these are my beliefs, teens have a different perception. Their worth is linked to the number of followers, and in turn the number of likes their posts receive, so whether their mother has lectured them on safety in social media, they are more concerned with perceived popularity than cyber safety.

As a parent you can’t bury your head in the sand when it comes to changing technology, but rather you should try to embrace it. I’m an advocate of having your kids as friends on social media and having their log in details (although I’m not that naïve to know that if they choose to have privacy as they get older, it won’t take them much to change their passwords or block a parent). I don’t have any definitive answers as to what we can do to make sure our kids cherish their real friends and put less emphasis on social media, but I’m monitoring the kids to try to keep them safe and to try to let them know that a person’s worth can’t be accounted for by the number of likes on a photo.

Do you have any advice on managing social media?

(Image courtesy of master isolated images, freedigitalphotos.net)

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Pen Friend

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My daughter has just received her first hand written letter from a pen friend in England. This arrangement came about through a friend of a friend and both the girls on opposite sides of the world are excited at the opportunity to form a bond with each other.

The letter my daughter received was like a piece of artwork. It was beautifully laid out and the girl’s handwriting is so neat and orderly. I must admit, I think my daughter was a bit intimidated by how gorgeous the letter was, as my daughter doesn’t have the neatest handwriting as she has always been too focused on the content than the style of her writing. Also, she relies heavily on typing as she uses computers for all her assignments at school.

In an age where handwriting is becoming a bit of a lost art, I’m thrilled that my daughter will get the opportunity to express herself through writing, rather than through electronic media. Not only does a formal letter require proper handwriting, the language is also more formal – there won’t be any acronyms like IDK, BBS or LOL, nor any emoticons with winking eyes and tongues sticking out!

The lovely thing about the letter my daughter received is that the two girls seem well suited with their intelligence and interests. I’m looking forward to my daughter learning more about this girl’s life and how it contrasts to her life. Her pen friend is an only child, whilst my daughter has three siblings. The other girl lives in a quaint cottage in a village with only two roads whilst we live in a large two storey house on a busy road in a suburb just outside of a large metropolitan city. I’m sure their correspondence will be an educational experience for them both.

I just hope they continue to write and that these letters build the basis of a lifelong friendship. Wouldn’t it be lovely if one day they arrange to meet up either in Europe or in Australia to cement their friendship!

(Picture courtesy of ddpavumba, freedigitalphotos.net)

I’ve finally done it!

I’m so excited to announce that after years of blogging, I’ve finally bitten the bullet and have published my first book on Amazon Kindle.

Music Score is a novel aimed at teens/young adults.

Raised by musician parents, Barb always had a love of creating, playing and listening to music.

Barb is outraged when she discovers her dad is responsible for creating music with subliminal tracks used by the government as propaganda to brainwash an unsuspecting public. She covertly changes the hidden tracks only to find that within a few weeks there is social unrest, with anti-government protests and rioting. Realizing she is responsible, Barb and her dad record a song with a subliminal track to calm the demonstrators. Performing this song live in the combat zone, Barb not only calms the rioters but becomes an overnight sensation in the media.

Before she knows it, Barb is a celebrity with a recording contract and starts a new romance with Jake, who stars in her music video.

It all seems too good to be true and maybe it is!

Just as Barb is preparing to fly overseas on a promotional tour, she discovers her dad has laid down subliminal tracks in her music to make people like her. Wanting to achieve success on her own merits, Barb gets her dad to edit the songs to remove the hidden track. Will her success and new found love wither without the subliminal messages or do her fans and Jake really like her for who she is?

If you are interested in reading my book or have a teen who would enjoy it, simply click this link to go to the Amazon Store to download:

Music Score

While you’re at it, you might like to check out my new website http://www.joannenicholsonauthor.com