Kids And Social Media
Written by Rebekah Cook
Photography by Photography by James Kicinski-McCoy
It’s probably safe to assume that most of our readers enjoy social media. Why wouldn’t you? We now have the ability to buy clothes, donate to charities, be notified of events, and much more—all online. But when we think about our kids’ involvement, it’s somewhat frightening. As parents, we become scared and paranoid. It’d be great if social media came with a recommended age like toys, or even had a government-mandated age limit. Unfortunately, we are left to monitor our childrens’ interactions on the world wide web of social media with our own devices.
The biggest hurdle? Keeping up! Today’s 13-year-olds (the age restriction for most social account registry) could care less about Facebook, because of all the frequently changing privacy policies—and the fact that their moms (and aunts and grandmothers) are frequent users. Instead, they’re opting for Instagram or Snapchat, which will most likely be eclipsed by another platform before they grow out of their size 7’s. If you’re concerned or curious, there are plenty of ways you can stay in control and up-to-date with your child’s social activity.
Mange Your Use
No matter how old your child is, they will mimic their phone and social media use to yours. If you’re constantly checking your social drug-of-choice, your kids will be, too. Keep your use (and where you use it) in check and make sure your kids know that it’s not a necessity.
Become Socially Savvy
Join the social conversation. Follow or “friend” your child. Know all of the ins and outs. You don’t have to comment or participate in everything your kid does online (they’ll insist that you don’t), but you can watch and follow along with their online dialogue. Plus, you’ll get cool points if you can show them a trick or two. Also, stay up-to-date on online safety information with a helpful book like Cybersafe: Protecting and Empowering Kids in the Digital World of Texting, Gaming, and Social Media.
Talk About What You Tweet
If you make it a point to discuss your social media interactions and text conversations with your kids, they will most likely open up and share what they are texting, IMing, or retweeting, as well.
Try device-free meal times to create an environment for face-to-face interaction. Create a charging station outside of their bedrooms to ensure they aren’t up all night with their devices—kids need all the sleep they can get! Keep the family computer centrally located, so that you are able to keep up with site history. They will learn to respect your limits.
Don’t Burn (Future) Bridges
Everything you do online leaves a digital footprint. Try to remind your children that future bosses, colleagues, and friends can access their activity, even if it was years ago. Encourage kind, respectful, and thoughtful social use.
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