Q: [Tween] “My daughter just got her first ‘boyfriend’ and he is all she can talk about. They are only 8th graders so they don’t actually ‘go’ anywhere, just publicly admit to the crush. I remember being swept up at that age, but with so much access via social media and cell phones, it seems like there’s not much chance of a break. What’s healthy?”
A: What is healthy now with regards to social media is much different than what was healthy when there was no social media. It seems hard to imagine, but kids now live at least 50% of their time engaged in social media. It is easy to become obsessed with someone in this way because there is constant access to her boyfriend’s every move. And yet, it is impossible to be correct about all that he is (or isn’t) doing or saying on social media, because of the natural limits of expressing and interpreting communication when not in person to read visual clues. So her emotions may go up and down with everything he posts.
As a parent, social media is something that you have to adapt to. If you see it hurting her, I would give her feedback that maybe she should stop looking at his communications. Although understand, the likelihood of her following through on your advice is fairly small. If she talks a lot about it I would listen, but encourage her by reminding how important it is for her to maintain her own life, goals and objectives. This is young love and her emotions are normal. But maintain your parental role by continuing to encourage her to be happy with herself, focus on her grades, sports and all the things which make her lovable, so she doesn’t lose sight of herself due to her strong feelings for him.
I’d also recommend these words of wisdom to your daughter, “You have to love yourself first and foremost and you do that by not letting any boy be the center of your universe. You need to live your life around you and fit him in. Hold back from trying too hard in order to get and keep his attention. To be whole, strive to be a girl he has to work for to deserve.” You will see her confidence rise as she practices this strategy.
Dr. Sherrie Campbell is a licensed Psychologist with two decades of clinical training and experience serving residents of Yorba Linda, Irvine, Anaheim, Fullerton and Brea. She has also written a book, Loving Yourself : The Mastery of Being Your Own Person. drsherriecampbell.com