Is Your Teenager a Fake? Four Steps to Creating Authenticity On and Off Social Media
By Haley Hawks
When I was twelve years old I spent much of my time reading. I loved it, and I loved to share it with others. But the kids my age didn’t read the same books I was reading so I searched out individuals to speak with on the internet. I was engrossed in these online relationships. The people that I spoke with shared my thoughts, liked hearing what I was thinking and I thought they were my true friends. The problem with this was that I had never met most of these people, and to this day still haven’t.
It is a common pitfall to crave validation online, but we should try to avoid letting our children learn how to crave this fake communication. Getting a lot of ‘likes,’ or ‘comments,’ doesn’t truly make a person more likeable, nor does it make anyone more authentic. What we must teach our children is that beauty is personal, and must be found within our true selves which enables us to show our own authenticity with interactions on and off social media.
How should we approach this topic of authenticity on the internet as well as with our face-to-face interactions?
Step One: Be Driven By An Inner Conscious
“Becoming authentic is an individual mission, since each person has their own way of being human, and consequently what is authentic will be different for each individual,” (Klosowski, 2015). Finding what drives YOUR desires is what matters. People often post exaggerations or even lies about their lives on social media, showing a perfectly filtered life, pretending that everything is always fun and beautiful in their lives, or proclaiming beliefs that they only mildly subscribe to. Teach your child that this is the time and the place to show who you really are, instead of displaying a fake version of yourself.
The best way to show true thoughts is to understand them yourself. Every post, tweet, or photo should promote who you are and what you believe. If you love to play that piano, craft a post showing that love. Be thoughtful and deliberate. Everything that is shared can make an impact that you would never expect.
Step Two: Love Unique Characteristics
Have you ever met a person that was exactly like you, in every way? Of course not. Although outside influences can change our behavior, what we think on the inside is what makes us who we individually are. We all have those friends that post long political posts, or religiously oriented posts that can seem a little bit in your face. But the point of social media is not to belittle or condemn or annoy. It is there to promote more social closeness, to keep you in the loop with friends, to share ideas and to learn from one another. It can show amazing spiritual or physical accomplishments. Be part of the journey that promotes the goodness of the world by inspiring others with the story of your adventure.
You could post:
- The last time you overcame a personal battle
- A beautiful image and how it makes you feel
- A picture of you and a close friend with a caption that shows the world someone else’s goodness
Step Three: Take Responsibility for Your Actions
Social media accounts are not like a journal. They are not there to rant, to mock or to complain. Or at least they shouldn’t be. Every interaction on social media is real. A person with a heartbeat sits somewhere reading and reacting to what is being posted. That it why it is so important for each child to take personal responsibility for their own social media relationships. From childhood on, we teach children that words have power. Well-written words have power too. A powerful way to explain this is by giving your child a heartfelt note.
Ask them to read it, and think about the words inside.
- Do they make them feel good?
- Do they make them feel loved?
It is the same with social media. The words that we post make people feel, and we want to make people feel good.
Step Four: Don’t Suppress Creativity
“One of the most common diseases of humanity is a tendency to generalize and standardize,” (P, 1960). Suppressing a child’s desire to paint, to run, to read, whatever it may be, creates a lack of genuineness in their everyday interactions. It tells them that their desires are wrong. When you suppress creativity you are encouraging your child to follow the expectations that society dictates. However, when you encourage someone to be true to themselves in all places, they are more likely to find worth in themselves because they create self mastery, and find fulfillment in their personal lives.This goes right along with your child’s online presence. If you help them find genuine interests, and encourage those interests, it will be easier to be more authentic online because they will be more authentic offline too.
One of the best ways to foster creativity is to help your child find a passion with the arts.
- Do they like to read? If so, why do they like it?
- What do the words mean to them?
- Why should they mean anything at all, if they are simply ink scribbled on a page?
Or maybe your child likes to paint. This is a wonderful outlet. Not only does it enable a child to do something they like; it also allows them to express their feelings. Plus it is an awesome thing to share on social media!
In short, teach authenticity in everyday interactions and those will translate into healthy social media relationships. Need more tips on helping your child be an authentic digital citizen? Check out some of our helpful lessons to work through this together.
Also check out our new children’s book on using tech for good, Noah’s New Phone. Join Noah as he learns how his actions with technology can cause a ripple effect for everyone around him–for good or for bad. We have the power to choose!
Or Check out Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age–A simple, super-helpful guide that gives YOU the words to talk about tough, timely topics of today (like racism, integrity, agency, healthy sexuality, LGBTQI issues, social media, and more).
Haley Hawks has a Bachelors of Science in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University-Idaho. . She is passionate about learning, especially when it comes to relationships and family life. She hopes to one day be able to educate on a world-wide setting in regards to promoting goodness in the family, and destroying ideals that hurt society.
Klosowski, T. (2015, April 16). How to Discover Your “Authentic” Self and Live the Life You Really Want. Retrieved October 12, 2017, from https://lifehacker.com/how-to-discover-your-authentic-self-and-live-the-life-1698115144
P. (1960, June 24). Suppression of Positive and Creative Tendencies-Thought Processes. Retrieved October 14, 2017, from https://pathwork.org/lectures/supprssion-of-positive-and-creative-tendencies-thought-processes/