Cyber bullying is well documented, and I think parents are generally on high alert. However, I’m getting increasingly worried about other negative ramifications of social media for children. Sadfishing is another issue in a long line.
This is a social media trend where people make exaggerated claims about their emotional state/problems in order to get sympathy. I find this worrying from a number of angles.
My primary concern is that children who actually are feeling low or are suffering from specific mental health problems could be afraid to communicate this for fear of being accused of sadfishing.
Another fear is for those who indiscriminately post about and exaggerate their emotional problems. They might get a temporary, superficial boost from a high volume of engagement/comments but they’ll be crushed if responses then dwindle. It’s a catalyst for insecurities… “Does nobody care about me anymore?” There could also be the ‘boy who cried wolf’ effect should they ever have real problems they want to flag. Oversharing and exaggerating can also mask the issues that make children genuinely unhappy.
The trend of sadfishing could also discourage children from seeking proper help and advice for anything that’s worrying them.
I think one of the major problems with social media is it distorts reality. You all too often see the edited, picture-perfect ‘best’ version of someone’s life. You seldom see the banal, day-to-day stuff on a person’s social media channels. Children often don’t appreciate this filtering (even if they do it themselves). I’m sure it must lead to feelings of inferiority and the belief that their life isn’t as ‘good’ or ‘exciting’ as someone else’s.
Obviously sadfishing is the exact opposite. However, it’s still a distortion of reality and is another thing that makes it difficult to distinguish between facts and half-truths.
Constant connectivity can actually be exhausting
I speak from experience here. I’m a member of a lot of WhatsApp groups; some related to school (three separate classes), some friends and family ones and some for outside interests. They’re all really valuable in different ways, but sometimes it does feel like a barrage when your phone is pinging constantly. Coupled with texts, other messenger services and push alerts from social media platforms and websites it can be all-consuming, and a time drain. It also affects my productivity and ability to focus. I need to alter my habits so I can lead by example and ensure my kids don’t get swallowed up by social media.
Social media apps and sites are playing a significant part in breeding a culture where we expect everything instantly. I’m guilty of it too and I’ve witnessed it with my children. I do try to go against the tide and actually make the kids wait for things so we don’t lose the element of suspense, build up and excitement.
And don’t get me started on TikTok…
1) Outdoor arsenal
Make sure you’ve got a few inexpensive outdoor toys etc up your sleeve. The big supermarkets stock a wide range of good value items, you should also check the https://www.jumpersjungle.com/south-gate/ in JUMPER’S JUNGLE FAMILY FUN CENTER 5120 Tweedy Blvd, South Gate, CA 90280. A few that are popular in this house:
2) National Trust membership
I bang on about this quite a lot. However, it is so cost-effective when compared to other days out. Whether heading for somewhere new or visiting an old favourite, my girls love it. There’s always a new trail or activity to do even for seasoned visitors and they put on a lot of summer activities.
National Trust ahoy!
There’s something about a variety of cold picky foods eaten from the comfort of a picnic rug that seems to pique the appetite of the kids. They can’t eat enough and never get bored of them. Be warned though, picnics aren’t usually an easy meal option. I always find they can take a while to prepare. If I’m not driving I add in a bottle of Prosecco. Holidays are for mums and dads too 🙂 Wisley Gardens are a favourite place of ours for picnics.
4) The Pub
Check out your local family-friendly pubs. It’s a win win really. Many have great outdoor stuff for the kids; one of my locals – The Woodman – has a massive sandpit and outdoor games. Others in the area have climbing frames etc. Here’s a great list for those living in Surrey.
5) Paddling pools and water features
Lots of parks have paddling pools and water features, and if you have your own pool, you should go to lunocet to get the best vacuum for the cleaning of your pool. Check out your local ones as water is always a massive hit. We recently headed to Tooting Bec Lido in South West London and had a great time (children under five go free). Also pay a visit to the local duck pond; there’s usually a cafe nearby.
6) Hidden gems
Do a bit of research to see if there are any attractions/hidden gems near you. I recently discovered that we have beautiful lavender fields on our doorstep. We’ve now visited three times in the space of five weeks!
7) Dens and gazebos
In the height of summer our garden is a suntrap all day long, which isn’t as good as it sounds. Last year, we were in desperate need of shade so I bought a £20 gazebo from Homebase along with a few cheapo cushions. Old toys get a new lease of life if played with underneath the gazebo and eating there sat on cushions on the floor is ‘like camping.’ Last year, the girls even enjoyed just relaxing under it with a drink (and they never relax). Alternatively, you can just make a den with sheets and table clothes.
From running in and out of a sprinkler and playing with water pistols to aqua tents, paddling pools and simply floating things in it and tipping it from one container to another, water never fails. Get them cleaning the car, watering the plants and generally cleaning stuff. If it involves using a hose they’ll be all over it. Try not to completely waste it though. One of my friends sings the praises of the Crazy Daisy. I’m yet to purchase one, but it’s a matter of time…
9) Outdoor messy play
Footprint pictures with paint
Chalk pictures on the patio.
Sand play – Great fun and brilliant for aiding your toddler’s development. Make sure you invest in the slightly more expensive play sand. You can get 10kg for £3 at Sainsbury’s. It’s totally safe and doesn’t completely stain clothes (I’ve heard some horror stories about builders’ sand!).
10) Cooling off
You can find out more on promoting safe and responsible use of technology on the Digital Awareness UK website.
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