By Heidi Stevens
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Heidi Stevens shares how she plans to tackle a “social media” agreement with her daughter that experts recommend for keeping your kids safe during the summer months.
School is finally out in a few short days, so I’m putting the finishing touches on my daughter’s contract spelling out proper social media use for the summer.
Just kidding. I can’t spell out anything until we get through the homestretch of middle school revelry: field day (bring a water bottle!), staff/student softball game (bring a towel to sit on!), class picnic (bring a disposable lunch!), pajama day (wear pajamas!), Cubs/Sox Day (wear Cubs or Sox gear, but not in the form of pajamas!), school carnival (volunteer!).
Only then, after we’ve celebrated adequately and remembered to return overdue library books and cleaned out lockers and donated too-small uniforms and packed the last lunch (hallelujah), can I tackle this document that experts recommend for keeping your kids safe and not utterly bummed out by what happens on Snapchat, Instagram, etc., during the summer months.
“I understand that I should never use social media to belittle someone or hurt someone’s feelings.
“I understand that I should keep all my settings set to private.
“I understand that Kylie Jenner’s life choices are rarely ones I want to emulate.
That kind of thing. (Google “teen social media contract” for sample contracts if you’re interested.)
It makes sense. My daughter’s phone hours are bound to increase without the pressures of school, homework, Debate Club, Beta Club and so on. Behavior guidelines are at least as important as time limits.
While I’m at it, I’m thinking of drawing up a social media contract for myself.
By the time you reach adulthood, summer often feels like little more than a hotter version of the rest of the months. Still going to work. Still drowning in deadlines. Still running a household. Still chipping away at the credit card bills. Where’s the respite?
The respite is where we create it, lunchtime walks, picnic dinners, post-dinner trips to the neighborhood pool.
But it’s also a mindset, a commitment to clearing away some mental clutter, so the sun can find its way in. A refusal, even temporarily, to get bogged down in petty conflicts and pointless time-sucks.
Which brings us to social media. My contract is going to look something like this.
“I understand that I should limit my Twitter and Facebook use to the amount that is necessary for my job.
“I understand that I should not debate foreign policy on Facebook with that guy I might have gone to high school with. Especially because I may be confusing him with that guy my brother went to high school with, I’m not sure. Either way, none of us is a foreign policy expert.
“I understand that checking Twitter incessantly before bed to see if Sarah Huckabee Sanders has stepped down yet is not conducive to restful sleep.
“I understand that I can find out in the morning. This will be my mantra for all things: I can find out in the morning.
“I understand that other people’s vacation locales are not a barometer by which I should measure my career or parental success. Not all of us can go to the Maldives. Some of us can go to Mall of America.
“I understand that time spent viewing a photo gallery of Jennifer Aniston’s New Summer Look is time I will never get back.
“I understand that I can ignore notification alerts. I understand that I can ignore notification alerts. I understand that I can ignore notification alerts.
“I understand that the most fun, most memorable, most peaceful, most meaningful moments will most certainly not happen on a screen. I understand that everything in life is better without a filter. (Except drinking water. That should definitely be filtered, especially in Chicago.) I understand that looking up and out is a richer way to live than looking down and in. I understand that all of these things are true all year-round, but I commit to honoring them with extra diligence in the summer, which is light-filled and romantic and fleeting.”
Signing off now.