Conversations about Social Media and Kids
One of my biggest frustrations is to listen to parents shun social media use for their kids. I have two under 10 year old girls, so the parents of my children’s peers are still “in control” of what they do and when they do it, for the most part. When these conversations happen, I’m typically quiet and just ask a lot of questions, as I’m always trying to listen to what people say about social media.
The conversation usually goes something like this:
Mom 1. “Yea, there’s this social media site that you can use to recommend books to each other. It’s really cool.”
Mom 2. “Really? What does it do?”
Mom 1.” Well, the kids can like each other, and then they can recommend books, and they can talk about it.”
Mom 2. “Oh. That’s sounds awful. I hate social media. My kids aren’t allowed to use it. There’s way to much bullying, and there’s no way to monitor it. I’m way against it.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think your 5 year old should be on Facebook, although even if they were I probably wouldn’t blink an eye.
But, and this is a very large and loud but, If you don’t teach your child HOW to use Social Media properly, please, who will?
Social Media, or Digital Currency, is not going to go away. If anything it is going to become more valuable in the future. If your child builds and manages their media presence, opportunities may present themselves, that otherwise would not be there. If it’s not Facebook in 5 years, it will be something else.
Here are some thoughts about Kids and Social Media.
1. Talk to your spouse and agree on a plan of when/if you will allow your children to be on social media accounts. Some sites like Facebook have an age 13 limit, so many parents are allowing their kids to lie, and claim accounts early. I don’t suggest you do this, as Facebook then recognizes them as older than they are, which could pose a ton of problems once age 18 rolls around.
2. Tell your children what sites they are allowed to use and what they can and cannot do on those sites. Explain to them that every. single. post. on every. single. site. will last forever. Then tell them again. And again.
3. Talk to them about predators. They are out there. But that is not a reason to hide. Just be smart.
4. Teach them not to post where they are and who they are with. This is really dangerous, but I see it happen all the time. Please please make sure to talk to them about this one.
5. If your child is really young, consider helping them with their social media accounts and working on them together. This is a great opportunity for them to learn how to use computers, the way technology works, what design is, and how photography plays into it all. I would love to see elementary schools have a Blogging Class in the curriculum.
6. Please don’t refuse to let your children use social media. I really think it is doing them a disservice. Not talking about how to use it, is what is going to get them into trouble. I also think allowing them to use it, and not communicating with them on a regular basis is just as harmful.
Some of you out there may be thinking, but wait how can I teach them about social media, if I don’t know how to use it myself. And to that I say, You know more than you think! Just use common sense and communicate!
Kids are going to use social media, and it’s our job as parents to teach them how to use it.