Kristen Hatton – Social Media Isn’t Your Teens’ Biggest Problem

The fear in the room was palpable. I’d just spoken to a packed room of mothers and daughters on the topic of social media. Many of the girls present were on the cusp of their teen years, and the majority of mothers were just beginning their foray into parenting teens.

After the girls went to a separate room for a follow-up discussion with youth leaders, moms’ hands darted up in the air. The urgency in each mother’s question expressed her anxiety over social media and other teen challenges. It was encouraging to see so many moms who wanted to be better equipped to navigate the teen years. Too often I see the opposite—parents resigned to the false “teens will be teens” notion that they give up trying.

But I’m not sure these moms were anxious for the right reasons.

Trusting in Rules

The moms who were so desperate to control and protect their children wanted me to give them a script to follow, a list of social media and phone do’s and don’ts with a guarantee that all would go well if they just follow the rules. I understand the desire for a script with a guarantee; every parent wants her teen to be safe, happy, and far from the path of destruction. But if we focus primarily on external solutions for raising our teens, we set our hope on something that can’t deliver.

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