Valentines Day, Social Media & Kids - What to Look Out For

Valentines Day - you either love it or well, maybe ‘hate’ is too strong a word, but let’s just say some people are not big fans. And for those who are not fans, it’s become even more annoying (one of the teens I spoke to for this article went so far as to call it torturous) since the advent of social media.

For those parents whose kids are now in the teen stage of development gone are the days of crafting handmade valentines for the whole class and coming home with a big bag of candy. Those days have been replaced with what feels like a day for kids to gauge just how popular or unpopular they - either posting their relationship status for the whole world to fawn over or wallowing in jealousy and sadness as they scroll through images of “happy couples” all day long.

So how much is Valentine’s Day actually affecting your child? Recent findings from Common Sense Media found that the effect of social media on a child depends greatly on their ongoing mental state and the strength of their family and friendship circle. Those who feel generally positive, healthy, loved & secure can find joy in a limited amount of social media, while those who are less stable, unhappy or insecure can be quite adversely affected by it. It stands to reason that Valentines Day and the social media blitz that goes with it would probably land similarly.

That said, I spoke with many of my teen and tween “eyes and ears” last week and they all generally agreed that there is added pressure to post the perfect cute V-Day pic and that some who long for a boyfriend or girlfriend can really spin out from looking at everyone else’s posts all day. While chances are this one difficult day isn’t going to have long term negative consequences for your child, the day does provide an opportunity for us parents to do a little check in and I highly recommend it.

So here are a few things I’d suggest:

Take a moment to sit down and ask them first off, how they feel about Valentine’s Day, then...

If your child is in a “serious” relationship

  • Is V-Day a big deal or not?

  • Do they expect to receive a gift from their significant other? Will they be giving anything?

  • Will they be posting a photo of them together? Do they expect this post may affect any of their friends negatively? Does that matter?

  • If they have a friend who feels lonely or sad about not having a relationship - how can they show that friend some special love on V-Day?

  • Is there anything they feel nervous about?

  • If you can, give a gentle reminder not to send or request any inappropriate or sexy pics as these can end up circulating like wildfire if things go wrong.

If your child has a crush or is “hanging out” with someone more casually

  • Is V-Day exciting or is it stressing them out at all? Why?

  • Will they be expressing their feelings to anyone? If so, have they thought about what to do if it doesn’t go as expected - it’s always good to have a plan and a support system in place - you can help them figure that out.

  • If you can, give a gentle reminder not to send or request any inappropriate or sexy pics as these can end up circulating like wildfire if things go wrong.

If your child has no romantic involvement with anyone

  • How does V-Day make them feel? If they don’t care - great! If they do, read on...

  • If it makes them sad or anxious offer them extra love, support and express all the ways in which they are unique, special and loved. Remind them that their time will come.

  • Offer the idea of showing love to someone in a non-romantic way - this can be good friends, siblings, even the lunch lady or school bus driver. Showing love and appreciation has a way of making us feel better all around.

  • Help them create a plan for the day - less checking of social media - can they turn it off for the day? Make plans with good friends to do something fun together. Offer to take them out for a hang with you - or just spend some time doing an activity together at home that evening - cooking something special or watching a funny movie maybe.

The most important thing here is to just check in and take the pulse of the situation. If you suspect your child may have a hard day, be ready for it in advance and offer plenty of support, but don’t forget to remind them that the day will pass and life will go back to normal again. Remind them that things are not always as they appear on social media - things are a lot more complicated IRL - even for the perfect looking couples.

Good luck parents - and reach out if you have any questions!

PS - If you have a tween who is starting to get into all of this relationship and social media drama, and you’re feeling like you may need some more strategies and support please check out the Tween +Tech Online Class. It is so full of useful information and tips to support you and your child at this critical time. Plus, we’re giving you $20 off as a V-Day gift, just use the code VALENTINE before V-Day. This class was made with love - just for you - so take advantage!