The SRSLY Chelsea student team welcomed a new generation of 40 new teen members this school year. The team ranges from freshmen to seniors, giving insight into how teens of all ages experience the world. Their first priority: the conversations that happen with their parents about social media.
When asked why this warranted urgent attention, their response was simple: “Everyone is dealing with this. We don’t want parents or teens to feel like these difficult conversations and strained relationships is something only they struggle with."
"It’s unavoidable in today’s digital world. We want them to understand, and we want to listen to their concerns. It’s all about mutual trust," expressed the SRSLY Student Team.
The team answered also 12 frequently asked questions parents have when it comes to concerns around social media and digital device use. To view the full list of parent’s questions and student’s answers, click HERE.
The students wanted parents to understand their primary use of social media is communication and connection.
“When we post something, it’s usually because it brings us joy - something relatable, and something that helps me to connect with others,” said Cecilia Henriksen, SRSLY student team member and Chelsea High School senior.
Students want parents to understand social media is not extraneous entertainment, but their primary form of communication with their peers and their way to feel connected to the people who matter most to them (parents included). Social media takes the stress out of communicating with others. Students aren’t obligated to answer a phone call immediately; they can wait until they have time to reply to a message. Asking for someone’s number is more stressful than getting their Snapchat or following them on Instagram. Have you tried to text your teenager lately? Is there a delay? Try sending them a Snapchat instead, their response could be faster.
“Social media has become the main form of communication for people our age. We use it to find information about sporting events, current events, keep in touch with each other, and more,” said Clara Johnson, another SRSLY team member and CHS junior. “I don’t have many of my classmates’ phone numbers, but I communicate with many of them through social media. I think it’s important for parents to know this so they can understand the real reason we may be on our phones ‘too much.’”
The student team assembled a FAQs sheet with the purpose of addressing this question. They collected real questions from adults in their life and answered them on paper, with responses collected from the CHS student body to provide adults with a framework of navigating the potentially tension-filled conversations that frequently occur.
When asked what’s the most important characteristic to having effective communication around concerns with your teen, CHS sophomore Avery Olaveson said, “Being respectful of each other’s opinion and having an open mind is the key to your teen listening.”
“Being able to have a two-way conversation where both parents and teens feel comfortable sharing their perspectives is crucial,” added Lyla Dabbs. “So, try to find a time when emotions aren’t already heightened around the subject, and a space where the conversation can remain private.”
The students also expressed it’s helpful when their parents and trusted adults have social media they utilize positively to bolster their relationship with their teens. It ensures their first interaction of the day is a positive one. It establishes a connection and a sense of “my parent is happy with me, they want to share something fun,” while eliminating the chance of the first conversation that day being negative or purely authoritative.
“When my parents send me something, whether it’s a funny TikTok or as simple as a recipe, it helps me feel more connected to them, like they understand me a little more and that they’re thinking of me.”
said Sasha Henriksen, CHS sophomore. “It also brings a positive moment into my school day. It seems small but having something that you are able to laugh about with your family when you get home can really improve a rough day.”
“It gives my parent a chance to send me something funny, to connect in a positive way before I get home and get asked to do homework or dishes, or we have to talk about something difficult like a bad grade or family issue. It makes me feel like they’re human, they’re funny, they want to bond with me,” said Lexi Cummer, CHS sophomore.
CHS alumna and srsly Marketing Lead, Nicolette Rivers, said this has helped her parental relationships even as she’s moved into adulthood. “I made my mom get Snapchat so when I traveled without her, I could easily share pictures of where I was and what I was experiencing. She loved it and I remembered to send her every picture I’d usually only think to send my friends.”
During a time when parents and adults may feel the teen in their life is someone they can’t seem to connect with, srsly students offered a simple solution: use social media yourself. Paying attention to the videos or memes your kid sends you may be the most helpful information you’re able to gather from them all day. It creates a pathway for adults to have insight into their kids’ interests and hobbies in a way that’s comfortable for both the teen and adult.
“We want to feel known. We want you to know us..."
said Auden Howard, CHS senior. "We want to have you commiserate at the dinner table about what’s going on in our world."