COPE CopeLine Supervisor

April 2017

Your Wellness & Work-Life Newsletter

Social Media and Your Child's Social Skills

Social networking sites, chat rooms, virtual worlds, and blogs are how teens and tweens socialize online. Many parents justifiably worry that their kids are sharing too much information about themselves or posting comments, photos, or videos that can damage a reputation or hurt someone's feelings or worse. But child-development experts worry that because modern teens are learning to do most of their communication while looking at a screen, they are not learning to read social cues which are critical to navigating human interaction.

Learning how to make friends is a good example. Friendship requires a certain amount of risk-taking, whether making a new friend or maintaining an old one. When there are problems that need to be faced, it takes courage to be honest about our feelings and then hear what the other person has to say. Learning to effectively have these interactions is part of what makes friendship fun and exciting, and also scary. "Part of healthy self-esteem is knowing how to say what you think and feel even when you're in disagreement with other people or it feels emotionally risky," notes Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical psychologist and author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age.

There's something else missing in your teen's Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram interactions: unrehearsed nonverbal communication---our facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice. Indeed, wordless communication broadcasts our truest feelings and intentions in any given moment and unlike other forms of communication, facial expressions are universal. To learn more about the importance of nonverbal communication, read this article.

What Can A Parent Do?

Experts agree that the best thing parents can do to minimize the risks associated with technology is to curtail their own consumption first. It's up to parents to set a good example of what healthy computer usage looks like. Establish technology-free zones in the house and tech-free hours when no one uses the phone, including mom and dad. "Don't walk in the door after work, say Hi, and then disappear back into your phone," Dr. Steiner-Adair advises. "In the morning, get up a half hour earlier than your kids and check your email then. Give them your full attention until they're out the door. And neither of you should be using phones in the car to or from school because that's an important time to talk."

Offline, the gold-standard advice for helping kids build healthy self-esteem is to get them involved in something that they're interested in. It could be sports or music or taking apart computers or anything that sparks an interest and gives them confidence. When kids learn to feel good about what they can do instead of how they look or how many LIKES they have, they're happier and better prepared for success in real life. That most of these activities also involve spending time interacting with peers face-to-face is just icing on the cake.

Estate Planning: Get Organized Now

Estate-planning isn't just about legal issues. There are practical ones as well. Many of the tasks and decisions your loved ones will have to handle upon your death usually aren't covered by basic estate planning documents. Save them some headaches and heartache by making your wishes known on such issues as:

• Who should be notified of your death?
• Do you want a funeral or a memorial ceremony? If so, what type? Who should attend? Do you want people to send flowers, or would you prefer donations to charity?
• Do you own a life-insurance policy, pension, annuity, or retirement account? Where are the documents stored?
• Do you have bank accounts? Do you have a safe-deposit box? Where are the records?
• Do you own stocks, bonds, or money in mutual funds? Where are the records?
• Do you own real estate? Where are the deeds?

Most of us carry this information around in our heads and never discuss it with our family members in a comprehensive way. Our loved ones must do their best to sort it all out later, and without a road map, our assets may get lost along the way.

Cope Incorporated