OK, parents, let’s face it – social media is here to stay! Whether you like it or not, it is a part of our kids’ future. At a recent round table discussion with parents and renowned children experts, we contemplated the positives and negatives of how social media is impacting our kids.
Being a mom of three kids, I see how much their world gravitates towards the computer, TV, phone, ds, iPad, iPod, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more! Kids are enamored with the fast-paced instant gratification that is being offered to them. As they get older, they are even more attracted to it. Suddenly, their days of playing “make believe” slowly disappear into the world of cyberspace. What can we, as parents, do to make sure that they are using their social media and computer technology in a safe, educated, and appropriate way?
SAFETY and AWARENESS
1) Be involved and educate yourself. I know many kids today know more than their parents do about computers by age 10! If you feel like you need to brush up on the newest technology out there, take a computer or social media course. It will help you and your kids down the road.
2) Make sure your kids don’t post confidential information about their age, location, or personal facts about themselves or their family. Don’t take for granted that they already know this. Kids are innocent. You must be very clear when explaining the rules and you need to remind them regularly. It is your job to ensure that they are safe.
3) Bullying – this is a BIG one! Somehow, kids don’t grasp that once you write something online, it can NEVER be taken back. If you post something derogatory just once, the consequences can be severe. Parents, if this happens, print the conversation so you have proof of what was written. Warn your kids that this, in turn, can be done to them. A negative comment can end up in the hands of parents, school officials or the police. Educate your children on this!
4) i-Chats and video chats should be done with supervision. Bottom line- you need to know who your kids are talking to.
5) Do you store your credit card info online? ( i.e. Amazon, iTunes, Gamestop) Be aware -savvy kids can click- click- click and purchase things that they didn’t realize they were ordering! Days later, you have a whopper of a credit card bill sitting in your mailbox.
6) Sensitivity – this is a tricky one. You had a small birthday party and want to post the pictures on Facebook to show family and friends. Remember, some kids weren’t invited. Are you okay with the fact that they might see the photos? Just try to be aware and sensitive to what you are posting.
7) Passwords and passcodes – here’s the deal… If your kids have a passcode or password for anything on the computer, you NEED to know it. There is no privacy for children when it comes to social media. If they don’t want you to know the password, then they shouldn’t have access to the computer at all. You really need to be firm on this.
8) Set a time limit – Come up with an appropriate amount of time to allow your kids to go online. The computer can be a place where your child can unwind and relax, but too much screen time is not good for children’s minds or bodies. “Everything in moderation” is a good phrase to remember here.
Positive Benefits For Kids
1 ) Educational Games – There are so many excellent games that kids enjoy playing on their computer, iPads and iPods. Reading, math and memory games can keep kids occupied when parents need a few minutes to themselves (and let’s face it – we ALL need it sometimes).
2) Keep In Touch – Grandparents live far away? Face timing can be so much fun! As kids get older it is an amazing way to keep in touch with their camp friends who don’t live close by.
3) Helpful Study Games – Today, kids can make up games, tests, and index study cards online! Easy for when you are going out to dinner and want to study “on the go.” Technology online keeps kids organized, motivated, and engaged while learning. Check out www.quizlet.com.
4) Well Rounded Kids – Exposure to the Arts, Music, and Media are all things that can really spark a creative interest for kids.
5) Can Help With Socialization – I know it may sound crazy, but if you have a very introverted child, social media may be an easier way for them to communicate and socialize in a safe environment with parental guidance.
6) The World At Your Finger Tips – Kids can discover and learn so much from the vast amount of information on the web. The opportunity to learn about cultural differences and others from different backgrounds is truly an amazing advantage for kids today.
We are raising kids to become bright adults who will succeed as they get older. Social media is a part of the world. The bottom line is: parents need to stay “in the know” and be involved in their kids’ lives. As long as you give your kids guidelines, limitations, and supervision, social media can be used in a positive and successful way.
Mental Health Consultant
The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.