If I could give parents one bit of advice concerning their kids and social media, it would be this:
Hold off as long as you can.
Because once that switch is flipped, it’s harder to turn off.
In our culture, kids are interacting online earlier and earlier. And passive parenting in this area can lead to problems in others.
We’ve asked our kids to wait until high school to become active in social media and here’s what we’ve learned so far:
1. Nothing is ever really private
Statuses and pictures can be shared and altered.
2. Or permanently deleted
Everything is traceable. I read something really disturbing on Facebook the other day from an old friend and when I went back to show my husband because I was alarmed, it had been deleted. But it definitely wasn’t forgotten.
3. Some things are better said face to face (like apologies or confrontations)
Social media makes it easier for us to be cowardly. We need to teach our kids the value of looking someone in the eye and making things right. Sure, it’s harder, but they won’t forget it.
4. Remember there are real people with feelings behind every avatar
Lately, I’ve been on the receiving end of some harsh words. And sometimes I just want to remind the offenders that I’m a real person. I think it’s good to teach our kids that our (online) words can hurt.
5. It’s okay to disagree with someone’s opinion, but kindness always wins
“If you’re not kind on the Internet, then you are not kind.” -Glennon Melton. It’s as simple as that.
6. Don’t let negative comments to your pictures, statuses or no likes at all change how you feel about yourself
This one is especially important to teach our girls. There’s this whole secret online code between mean girls and we have to remind our daughters who they are doesn’t change because of how people see them.
7. It’s easier to attain a bad online reputation than a good one
We’ve all probably done something online that we regretted. Our words follow us.
8. Avoid drama
We all read and see things we don’t agree with and I want my kids to use self control and click away.
9. Don’t ever mention your location
Predators don’t lure kids at the school bus nearly as much as they do online. Our children need to know the dangers of over sharing.
10. Take a day of rest from social media
Recently, I asked my teen to take a break from social media. She wasn’t doing anything wrong or in trouble. I just noticed she was isolating herself and it would be healthy for her to take a couple of days off. Later, she thanked me.
My life has been changed by a social media love story and I’m so thankful for the online world. Let’s commit to protecting our kids by teaching them how to handle this powerful tool.