I only actually understand the first three, the rest I had to Google and to be honest I still don’t quite get them, which is probably due to my *ahem* age. With a daughter finishing her first year in Jr. high my eyes and ears have been opened to the world of social media, phones and digi-everything. She is the “only” 6th grader without a phone, which makes us the “meanest parents ever” and she is so embarrassed “every day she goes to school“. My how things have changed-I used to be embarrassed going to school without the latest pair of stonewashed Guess jeans.. now its a phone, a Facebook page and the like.
As I recently rejoined the Facebook world after my own insecurities and emotions entangled in social media I had to think about my own daughter and what she and her peers are facing within social media. You don’t have to go far to hear or see the impact that social media is having on our youth. While they look like young adults, they aren’t. They still need our guidance. Here are some tips for navigating the social media minefield with your children.
1. Rules: Before you ever even think of giving your child a phone, a Facebook account or even online access, go over the rules/boundary lines. Don’t be afraid to be stingy at first, trust needs to be earned. When your child shows how they can handle being online or have a phone the boundary lines can be extended to another level, or taken back if need be.
2. Privacy: In my opinion there is no need for a tween/teen’s Facebook page to be “open.” Help them establish their privacy settings so their circle is “family and friends only”. This keeps the trolls and creeps away that have nothing better to do than stalk the naive and young online. Privacy settings are the first defense to protecting your child online.
3. Monitoring: Otherwise known as stalking or spying. Listen, we all want whats best for our children, but we can’t say that and not keep an eye on their text messages, emails and social media feeds. It breaks me heart to see tweens/teens on Facebook rating each other, or using the acronym “TBH” to tell the other a truth that is actually hurtful. No, its not all bad, sometimes it’s actually very nice things they are saying to one another. But we’ve all heard the news reports of cyber bullying leading to physical bullying or even suicide. It is absolutely our job as parents to stay on top of what our children are posting to one another and have a conversation about what was said.
4. Communication: Parents, we are all busy with work, sports, church and sometimes at the end of the night we just want to crash. However, that’s when our kids need us most. Let them talk, ask them questions, even consider sending them a text message during the day. However you can keep an open line of communication, do it!
5. Apps: There are so many apps available to monitor your child’s phone and internet use and you shouldn’t feel guilty using them! Make the app a stipulation of earning the trust, but be careful how you use it. The app is a tool to keep your child safe; it is not the way to correct their grammar on a Facebook post, scold them publicly for their grades or belittle them in any fashion. It can be a way to monitor who they are hanging out with, which is an opportunity to invite their friends over to get to know them better. Two great apps for monitoring: MamaBear app and the My mobile Watchdog app.
Treat your child with respect and they will likely be more open in return.
What are your thoughts on children and social media or a phone?
What things do you use to keep your child protected online?