We are encouraged to make appointments online, shop online, watch programmes online etc so is it really any wonder that younger generations are becoming more and more dependent on living life through a screen?
"It's not fair", "but my friends have one", "your so boring" were just some of the statements made by my then tween when discussing why she couldn't have a Facebook account. At the time, my daughter was just 12 and had started secondary school. Whilst many of her arguments for why she should be allowed to have an account were well thought out and very diplomatic, I was able to get her to understand why I made the decisions I did in regards to her having social media accounts. Compared to some parents I knew at the time I was not necessarily as liberal as them but I thought that children should be children and there will be plenty of time for them to be adults. Since then(which was just 4 years ago) things have changed dramatically. With children as young as 3 in possession of their own Ipads and tablets, logged into their own YouTube accounts or Netflix profiles to watch other children not much older than them on their own YouTube channels, playing with toys or unwrapping Kinder eggs (I seriously don't get it) do we have to change our thinking when it comes to children and social media?
Recently I've noticed quite a few adults on social media talking about how images and posts in their social media feeds is negatively impacting their mental well being and if it has that power on us as adults can you imagine the impact it must have on young, impressionable individuals. I'm not for one second saying that social media is an evil and bad invention but what I am saying is how do we manage our children and social media because let's face it, they have plenty to choose from;Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat the list goes on
Having 2 teenagers, I know that they have accounts across various platforms;, but I also have passwords to their accounts and follow them so have access and a voice in how they use it. So far, we haven't had any major issues other than the odd meme that they've re-tweeted or shared that I've felt maybe a bit inappropriate, so with that in mind I've put together some of my top tips for venturing into the world of social media with your teen.
- Ask them why they want to open an account and what they want to use it for
- Talk to them and prepare them for the negatives of social media too
- Make sure you are both fully aware about internet safety and protection
- Be clear on who they can and can't befriend and follow (people they know only and verified celeb accounts)
- Ensure that their accounts are set to private and avoid using location services
- Be mindful of what is posted (hurtful comments, personal details etc)
- Never posting inappropriate pictures and videos
- Never agreeing to meet with someone offline
- If they see something that concerns them talk to an appropriate adult
- Be clear on whether you want access to the account or if you trust them to manage it themselves
- Decide on exactly what platforms they will be using
- Agree on how long they can spend on social media (once you start scrolling it can turn into hours)
Hopefully those tips will help prepare to venture into the wold of social media with you teen.
Are your children already using social media? How do you manage it? Are you comfortable with it?
I'd love to hear your views.