One dad shares how his teen daughter gets her news from social media

Gary explains how his teen daughter consumes news on social media

Gary is a divorced dad who has a 16-year-old daughter Ella who recently finished her GCSEs. He shares parenting duties with his former partner and discusses here how Ella gets her news from social media.

Getting news from social media

Like many teenagers, Ella doesn’t regularly read the newspaper. Instead, she gets her news from social media. As such, she regularly shares stories with her Dad that she’s found on Snapchat or Buzzfeed. Occasionally, Ella shares a newspaper story or something from a magazine, but it’s usually something she’s seen shared on social media.

“It used to frustrate me because I’m a daily newspaper reader and listen to radio news. But what I’ve realised is we still talk about politics and world events, she’s just getting information about those things from different places,” he says. “During the BLM (Black Lives Matters) riots, she knew a lot more about what was going on than me, thanks to TikTok, and she was sending me videos that were really informative.”

Managing wellbeing with tech

Alongside news on social media, Ella regularly uses a range of apps that help her to manage her daily life. “I know she uses Calm and the breathing feature on her Apple Watch to help her relax. But more often than not, she relaxes by watching TikTok. The only problem is she tends to fall down a ‘TikTok hole’ and forgets about things she should be doing!”

Gary feels strongly that technology helps teenagers improve their wellbeing. “Of course, she sometimes sees things she wants to buy, or wishes she could go on holiday like this person, and we have to say no, but overall, I think social media is helping her to be social. Ella has moved schools a couple of times and we found that letting her use Snapchat and Instagram helped her to fit in with new friends, while still keeping in touch with older friends from where she used to live.”

Using screens to revise

The other technology that is widely used are revision and study apps, which are new to Gary. “When I was at school, you might read a book and if you were stuck, you might phone a friend, but now teenagers have access to all these study videos and resources and flashcard apps, and it makes it much less stressful. I think Ella feels less alone in her studies,” he says. Like getting news on social media apps, these revision apps are a sign of this generation’s creative use of tech.

Impacts of screen time

Screen time is an occasional concern, Gary says, particularly for a divorced parent. “I don’t always get to spend as much time with Ella as I’d like as she gets older,” he says. “She has netball matches and school and a boyfriend, and so I get frustrated if I haven’t seen her for a week, and she’s on her phone rather than talking to me.”

In other ways, though, technology makes their time apart easier. “It’s nice that we’re able to be connected even if she’s with her mum,” he says. “I send her little funny videos from Twitter and she sends me TikTok videos and fitness tips – even if I don’t always follow them!”