How Social Media Affects The Way We Parent Our Kids (Pt 2)

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The way we parent our kids has been heavily influenced by social media in recent years.

Thanks for joining us again. We’ve been looking at how social media impacts the choices people make, and in this case we’re looking specifically at parenting. As we mentioned in the previous article, social media can impact the health and medical choices parents make for their kids, for example: vaccines and whether or not to immunize. But medical information certainly isn’t the only information parents are bombarded with online. Even disciplinary methods are informed by social media.

People feel justified when others share their views

Several studies done in recent years point to the fact that the content we read online (which is often curated by social media algorithms) has a huge impact on the choices we make. And when you’re making those choices on behalf of your kids, or allowing that information to inform how you parent, it can be a big deal. Especially when it comes to discipline.

Think about it – people tend to feel better about their choices when they feel that others share their views. Somehow, the fact that other people believe the same things as you, or share the same values, helps us to feel justified in our choices. It bolsters our view that we’re correct. Which can be dangerous when the perspective we hold is potentially illegal, or could have unintended consequences.

Spanking is a topic influenced by public opinion

You’ve probably seen a million parenting memes on Facebook, and we’re willing to wager that at least a third of them related to discipline. “My parents spanked me as a child, and I now suffer from a psychological condition known as respect for others” – is an example of a common meme that supports corporal punishment. But then there’s the one that says “Hitting a child is never OK! Your child isn’t responsible for your poor parenting skills!” So which is correct? And just because there’s a meme (or a million) to support your views, does that make it right?

Under Michigan law, spanking a child is legal. MCL 750.136b of the Michigan Penal Code defines Child Abuse as “harm or threatened harm to a child’s health or welfare that occurs through non accidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or maltreatment.” But spanking by a parent or guardian is considered to be an exception, as long as it is for the purpose of discipline, and that only “reasonable force” is used. But since reasonable force isn’t ever properly clarified, people do whatever they think is best in the moment, and that can sometimes lead to allegations of child abuse!

Online support of your choices doesn’t make them okay.

We’re not saying you should or shouldn’t spank your kids – Michigan gives you the right to choose for yourself what you believe is right, but we want to encourage you to make your choices based on research and advice from medical and mental health professionals, not based on the fact that “lots of other people online say they agree with me, so it must be okay!”

The issue of spanking is somewhat controversial here in Michigan, and what one person thinks is normal discipline can often be viewed as abuse by another person. This can lead to allegations of abuse, which can turn a family’s life upside down. As family law attorneys, we help a lot of families deal with allegations of abuse in addition to all the other issues we handle, like custody and child support concerns. Call 866 766 5245 and talk to an experienced parenting rights defense attorney today. We’re here to help.