One of the first things I heard on the news this morning was a story about Instagram having a toxic effect on body image and teens. Is this really news to anyone? Having two daughters, I have watched them bounce from Instagram to Snapchat to TikTok with the same concern for all platforms… do my kids really believe any of this is real? The short answer is, they might. The advice given to parents on the Instagram story was to “monitor and advise them about what they see…” but not to make the social media cloud seem imaginary. Nothing difficult about that. I learned years ago that banning the platforms altogether made me feel like I was in control, yet I never was. They always had access via a friend or classmate. The issue parents face in battling the Goliath that is social media is to instill a greater sense of self-worth when they are preschoolers. Yes, preschoolers. The first time a child rides a bus to school one has to assume they are being exposed to some form of social media. Even if you make the decision to wait until middle school or later to equip your child with a cell phone, someone else will have one. If you decide to drive your child to and from school to eliminate the bus ride, then their exposure will happen on field trips, or recess, or some other arena over which you have absolutely no control. You cannot win this battle, so change your strategy.
My decision to start my brand The Breadcrumbz was based on the idea of girls becoming lost while trying to be the person that is dictated to them by their peers and social influences. Girls try to ‘fit in’ more than ever with this extra layer of pressure compliments of Mark Zuckerberg, Kevin Systrom, Evan Spiegel, and Zhang Yiming. So how do we teach girls at a young age to be more accepting of who they are? Maybe we start with ideas like imperfection being acceptable, failing being okay, friendships being more inclusive. We start by having conversations about why being different from our peers makes us who we are, rather than finding ways to change to be “liked” by everyone. My Crumby World is a place where I intend to explore these ideas and conversations. I hope you will join me.