Parent Club Podcast Ep. 1: Navigating Social Media

Editor’s Note: The CUNY SPS Parent Club is a group of mothers and fathers, coming together to navigate the challenges of parenthood while pursuing higher education. 

In their Parent Club Podcast, members gather to discuss a wide range of issues that parents face day-to-day. In this first episode, they turn their focus to the impact of social media on children’s mental health. Tune in as the club members share their diverse perspectives and strategies for managing this new era of technology.

Parsh Lal: All right, I’ll get my Saturday morning podcast voice on, right? Coffee’s kicking in now. All right, good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to the Parent Club podcast of SPS. My name is Parsh Lal. I’m the student life coordinator of SPS and I welcome everybody who is joining us here on this rainy Saturday afternoon from New York. I am very excited about this podcast session, and I think this topic is something that is very relevant, especially in the current generations of social media and parenting. I’m joined today by our students who are also parents who will be speaking about this topic. We have Cerlyn [Ellis] with us and we have Keisha [Caesar] and we have Ashley [Fuentes-Miranda].

Keisha Caesar: Hi, everyone. My name is Keisha. I am currently in my senior year. My master’s, too, is in business. Being on this podcast, like Parsh said, it has strengthened your capability of speaking and being able to speak in public. And it’s a good thing just being on here and being able to talk about different topics, especially with kids. I’m a mom of two. They are nine and 10 years old, and learning and growing with them is an amazing thing. You know, they have different things to say. We go through a lot and I’m glad that I’m on this podcast.

Cerlyn Ellis: Hi, good afternoon, everyone. My name is Cerlyn and I completed my advanced certificate in immigration law. And I’m presently doing my master’s also at another CUNY school, Baruch. But I’m employed full-time and I’m a full-time mom. That’s my role in this society. So a little bit about myself, I have a son. He’s 22. I have a daughter. She’s 12. And the podcast had strengthened me in terms of — you get feedback from other parents on similar issues that you have as yourself as a parent. Since we all know that parenting doesn’t come with a book and you figure you always head over water with the situation. It’s always good to hear other parents’ views and certain things that you go through yourself.

Parsh Lal: What a beautiful response, Cerlyn. Beautiful response. And you know what? A mother’s job is one of the most beautiful jobs in the world. Like you guys, kudos to you guys. It’s not easy. I hear the struggles and I hear the accomplishments all the time. So it’s the best job in the world. No one can define it and understand what it’s like except for our mothers themselves. So thank you for that. Ashley, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Ashley Fuentes-Miranda: Hi. So my name is Ashley. I am pursuing my bachelor’s in psychology. I came in as a transfer student. So I guess I’m considered a junior with the amount of credits that I have. But yeah, I’m here. It’s my first time doing the podcast. I am a single mom to a three-year-old and he’s currently facing a lot of struggles, emotional regulation-wise. So I find this podcast to be really helpful, also the parent club in itself, to just be able to connect with other parents, you know, get some feedback and get to know all the mommy struggles over here in the world.

Parsh Lal: Welcome, Ashley. Welcome to SPS first off. That’s the first thing. And don’t worry, we’re all a community here together. I think everyone here can relate to some issue of parenting together. So you’re not alone. All right. So let’s get started with Ashley as well. So Ashley, the first question that I want to ask you is what rules do you tell your child regarding social media? I know you said your child’s three years old, but let’s put this hypothetical. Let’s say when your child is at an age where they’re starting to get exposed to social media. They’re growing up like mom, I’m growing up now. I can’t be doing this too much more and then they want to be on social media. What kind of things would you tell your child regarding social media? What it’s like or what they should look out for and stuff like that.

Ashley Fuentes-Miranda: When it comes to my son now, he does see a lot of other children his age on tablets and everything. So the exposure is a lot younger than I expected to social media. I just try to limit his screen time right now, especially because he’s little. But once he gets older, I feel that I would discuss the potential dangers because everyone knows about the blue whale when people were bullying children on social media and it became very hostile. I feel that it’s something that has to be spoken [about] in depth. At least break it down to kids like, “Hey, if something doesn’t seem right, you don’t need to be afraid to disclose these things with me.” It’s just a matter of building that trust and letting them know like, “Hey, everyone that you meet on social media is not your friend. Everyone that you interact with there, you cannot trust because you can’t see them. Just because you guys are in the middle of a game.” Like I know a popular game is Roblox and stuff. But again, you don’t know who you’re really interacting with, but overall it’s like creating that boundary and that set rule of honesty that if something’s going on, just to be a bit more open.

Parsh Lal: Beautifully said, Ashley. I mean, I think you make a great point, to be careful about who your child interacts with online because, I think back in the day before social media, right, you’ve seen a lot of — I think the biggest fear of parents was who they leave their kids with, right? Like at a daycare or whatever it is. And now it’s like, you have to be careful who your child interacts online with and in person with. So it’s like, that double danger if you think about it, right? So great point about that. Next we shall head to Keisha. So Keisha, the question is, what rules do you tell your child or children regarding social media?

Keisha Caesar: So just to piggyback on what Ashley said is she’s actually right. So the rules that I usually tell my kids is that, everyone is not different. They’re both close in age, so they are mostly on TikTok. They’re not on Instagram or Facebook. TikTok is one of the popular things for kids at their age group. And I just let them know that, you know, don’t accept friendship from people that you don’t know, which they don’t, they say, “Mom, we’re mostly on there with friends from school and our cousins and stuff like that.” And I do monitor it to make sure that they are doing what they are saying that they’re doing.

It’s very informative, you know, TikTok is, it’s creative. And not only that, it’s something that teaches them things, but there also are pros and cons. My main thing is that, don’t be on TikTok for too long. I limit their time. I also make sure that when they come from school, that they’re doing their chores first and they’re doing their homework before they get on TikTok. I also let them know that if it’s school, if they have school during the week, there’s a cutoff time. And those are the rules that I give them and I make sure that they abide by because social media can take up a lot of their time and they can get distracted really quick. So, you know, those are some of the rules that I try to instill in them. And not only that, I make sure that I am monitoring their screen time. So that they don’t stay too long on it or get caught up in the social media world.

Parsh Lal: Great answer, Keisha. I know for TikTok, especially because it’s probably the number one popular platform out there. And it’s so addicting that I think once you’re on it, right, you scroll off to one video, another one comes up. And the algorithm is so perfect that it literally knows how you’re going to think what you like. So it’s going to keep on keeping you on that. So it’s good that you monitor it. It’s good to keep that in control. Like everything in life should be in some limit and control. So who does see you for doing that, you know? Thank you. I think Goseema has a question for you to follow up with that.

Goseema Persaud: Hi guys. So I had a question in regards to rules and monitoring. I have my seven-year-old and the only social media he does have is TikTok. He doesn’t have Facebook or Instagram, but he does go through videos. And like you said, the algorithm is perfect. It knows what he likes and enjoys, but how do you monitor or what are your rules that you tell your kids for the appropriateness of a video? Because sometimes there’s inappropriate videos that pop up where it’s not age-related content and it might have some inappropriate language. So my question is what are your rules that you enforce with your kids about that?

Keisha Caesar: Hi Goseema. So again, what I always do is I monitor what they watch on TikTok. Like I said, they only go on TikTok. I say to them, “If you’re unsure of something that you see and you don’t know about, ask your parents, ask an adult that you’re around.” Because I don’t let them, of course they bring their phones to school, but the teachers don’t allow them to use their phones. So most of the time they’re using their phones at home, and I’m always watching. I’m always lurking. I’m always trying to be nosy. “What are you watching?” So if they happen to come across something that is inappropriate, I already said to them, if it’s inappropriate, scroll past it. Don’t be stuck on it and be shocked. Like, “Oh my God, let me just watch it.” If you’re concerned, say, “Hey mom,” or say, “Hey dad, I came across this,” hoping that they do be honest. If they do come across that, I’m just hoping that they do come to us and say, “Hey, this came across and I’m concerned, like, what is this mom?”

Because we do speak to our kids. We speak to them all the time. We try not to hide stuff from them because if you don’t teach them, they’re going to learn it somewhere else. So we just try to have that open communication with them, because they are of that age where they are being nosy and they want to not be nosy, but they want to know. They’re in the know. My kids are nine and 10. They’re in the know. They’re considered preteens. So they’re going to ask questions and they want to know. So, I try not to just not keep them in the know. I had that open communication with them.

Parsh Lal: Thank you, Keisha. All right. So let’s move on to the next question for Ashley. So the next question is, Ashley, here’s the question. As a parent, how do you feel about social media and what pros and cons do you see in it?

Ashley Fuentes-Miranda: Especially as a mom of a toddler, again, there’s always good things about social media and bad things about social media. For me, what I started to find out is, I even had a monitor like certain videos that I was putting on YouTube for my son. And I guess this falls under the con category of it, because, um, I guess video creators were putting subliminal messages in cartoon videos. So it’s again, like paying attention. And, that’s like one of the cons, like you don’t know what your child could be exposed to in such a short amount of time that they’re watching a video scrolling. The pros is that there is a lot of information, everything. But again, I feel that us as parents, we have to take the time to teach our kids how to use that information in the right way, rather than learning the wrong things and then the appropriate things. And that’s where it comes to the household when we sit down with our kids and we explain to them, and it’s so true. The previous speaker said, I’m so sorry. I forgot your name. Basically, I’d say if we don’t teach our kids, they’re definitely going to learn it somewhere else. So it’s better to just take the initiative.

Parsh Lal: Thank you, Ashley. That’s a great response. Keisha, the question is, as a parent, how do you feel about social media and what pros and cons do you see in it?

Keisha Caesar: The pros and cons of social media, I’m going to stick with TikTok because that’s the one that my kids are on. So the pros and cons of TikTok is, pros, it’s creative. It has freedom of expression and it’s entertaining. So I can see why they can give stuff on it for hours. But the cons of TikTok is some things can be inappropriate for kids. And that is why I monitor their time on it. I also don’t find it to be age appropriate for kids to use on their own. So that’s why I’m always lurking and seeking and trying to find out what is so exciting about TikTok. But what I do see is that TikTok, it’s informative. And I’ve come across videos of people dancing suggestively and also wearing revealing clothes. So that’s a negative to me. And that’s why I always tell them, if you come across certain things like that, to just go past it. Again, like I said, I’m trying to learn TikTok myself so that I can always be that voice for my kids when things are not appropriate.

Parsh Lal: Thank you, next we have Cerlyn. There we go. So Cerlyn, as a parent, what rules do you tell your child or children regarding social media?

Cerlyn Ellis: Okay, so as I informed you all guys, my son is 22 and my daughter is 12. So during the time when my son was big on social media, what was reigning was Facebook and he was doing the online gaming system. So my rules for him at the time was that you don’t meet up with anybody that you’re playing video games with online. Because you don’t know who’s the actual person behind the name. Because it could be a 40-something-year-old man pretending to be your age. So that was one of my rules because he was very big on the gaming because he didn’t have another person with him to play with at home. And well, the Facebook portion of it, we only accepted people like family members since we migrated here to keep in touch with people back home. So it was mostly family and individuals that he made friends with in school. So that was the portion with my son during that time. Now my daughter, it’s a different era. It’s TikTok. So she’s only in TikTok. She’s not even on Facebook. She doesn’t even use WhatsApp. On Snapchat, she does it just to take pictures, but the biggest thing is TikTok. So with TikTok, because it’s, they’re all age appropriate and might, they’re all supposed to be 13 and older and my daughter is almost 13. I would have had to forward her age for her to get on there. So to monitor what is the content, it’s a little bit tricky as a parent. So most of the time, because you say it goes by algorithm, she’s quite into the arts. So she would have watched a couple of videos to draw. So most of the stuff, that’s what pops up on her YouTube page. But then as a parent, I still kind of just once in a while, as I’m going to piggyback off of one of the other parents, Keisha, you just pass by, I’d be vigilant. You keep your air open, you’ll be vigilant, you pass by, you’ll hear something, you pop by, you look in.

Parsh Lal: Thank you, Cerlyn. Thank you so much for having a response. Does anybody have any questions for our members of the podcast before we move on to the article discussion? Nothing? Quiet crowd? All right. That’s totally fine by me.

So let’s move on to the last section of our podcast. So I’m going to share my screen about the article that I picked out. It’s basically going to be talking about social media and especially how it’s affecting kids’ mental health. I know you guys each touched upon this topic a little bit differently. Most of you guys talked about monitoring the children, about what they do on there, and having control and balance. But I think it’s also good to hear and see what it is about having like, how it affects their mental health. I think we don’t think about that, a lot of times, especially the generations, we hear a lot about kids having mental health problems, teens getting, for example, depression, anxiety. So, you know, basically, when you guys take a look at this article yourselves, what did you guys think about it? Was there any kind of reactions you guys thought about in the article? Was there any kind of, “I kind of knew about this” or “something new to me”? So let’s start with Ashley first. Ashley, when you saw this article, right, what did you think about it, about social media and mental health for children?

Ashley Fuentes-Miranda: When I read this article, I actually immediately reflected on my younger sister and my younger brother. My siblings recently migrated from another country. Again, they’re trying to connect with their friends. But I have noticed that the fact that they’re on TikTok, Instagram so much, and it’s something that I’ve spoken to my dad about too, it’s worsened their depression. Like, especially on my older brother, he just completely shuts down. He won’t speak to anyone for the fact that he shows his alter ego in social media. And I feel that that’s what really concerned me about this article, because in real life, the anxiety, the depression, because they’re not receiving that attention, or the same respect and charisma that they would in person as they do online. So I feel that it is a big issue in everything that it should be brought into more schools to bring more awareness to how detrimental social media is in the long term to all kids.

Parsh Lal: I think definitely a lot of amazing points. Do you think that a lot of teens and young adults who use social media, that a lot of people think that their identity, right, like there’s two identities, identity you have as a person, and you’re doing social media. Do you think that that’s a big influence now that people have to show what they’re doing all the time, people have to post about what’s going well? Do you think that a lot of people kind of have to live this double life that you mentioned, or do you think that some people have a balance between both?

Ashley Fuentes-Miranda: I think it’s easier for people from the 90s and everything, because we were vaguely exposed to social media, but not as much as the kids now in the 2000s. I’ve seen it happen with family members. I think it was my niece, but she was having a whole alter ego on her, I think it was TikTok or Instagram, that she was like, “Yeah, I’m an 18-year-old, this that and the other looking to make friends, this that and the other.” And there’s another platform, it’s called Twitch, that it’s more for gaming that a lot of kids are using now. And also, again, you’re interacting with other gamers. And it’s like, yeah, I’m this hardcore, high ranking gamer at home. But then after that, it’s when I go to school, they feel like they’re disconnected from that personality. But I feel that it is a big factor.

Parsh Lal: Yeah, definitely. Great answer, Ashley. Thank you so much for that. Keisha, you’re up next. When you saw this article, what was your reaction towards it? How did you feel about it? Did you agree with some of the statements on here? Or do you think that, like you said earlier about having the balance, is that the best way to go for that?

Keisha Caesar: Yeah, when I read it, I was like, I already knew about that. That’s why I limited the times that my kids spent on social media, because it can take a toll on your brain, you pay more attention to social media than you want to do your schoolwork, or you want to do your chores. There’s times that I could be calling my son and he’s so distracted by social media that he’ll hear me, but then act like he doesn’t hear me until I go in his face. I’m like, “I know you hear me calling you, like, why are you so stuck on social media?” He’s like, “Oh, mom, I didn’t hear you,” but come on, I’m watching you from the kitchen while I’m calling you from the kitchen and you’re in your room. But I already knew about it. And it was just very informative because, you know, some are some of the things that I didn’t know, it just made me aware and have it an eye opening, you know, that to continue to be that person for your kids, continue to keep doing what I’m doing. Because in the long run, it’s not, I’m not harming them, I’m just helping them. So yeah, this topic that I read, it was very informative and I agree with it.

Parsh Lal: Thank you so much, Keisha. Cerlyn, when you saw this article, how did you feel about it? Do you agree or disagree and should there ever be actions about it?

Cerlyn Ellis: So they’ve been talks for years about social media and kids’ mental health. So I agree to that part. There are certain things that I’m not doing agreement with. The main reason is because our kids nowadays are totally different from us when we were going out and playing in the park or with our friends. And even then bullying took place. You’re not there to really see or know what’s going on when they were out there. Now, our kids are of a different era. I think how we handle the situation is very important. We can’t just say, yes, you’re thinking, taught in is too young. But then when you think about it, social media doesn’t only have that bad part to it, but it’s also good. So I don’t think the age limit is the issue. But I think it’s how we use the information that is provided to us, to our kids.

Parsh Lal: Thank you, Cerlyn. Thank you, everybody who’s spoken so far. There’s somebody in the chat. Jen said that the pressure does make people have those two lives that they can’t keep up, which causes them to become depressed. That is very true. Does anybody else have any questions or comments you’d like to say about the article? Now it’s open to everybody. Anyone? Well, everybody, thank you all for joining us this Saturday. I think this is a very engaging conversation. And thank you to all of our speakers today. I really appreciate your guys’ time, your input, your knowledge. And I hope everyone learned something out of this conversation. I think it’s really good to have these conversations about topics like these. And have a great, great weekend. Thank you, everybody.

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