Fears Parents Have About Social Media

How many social media accounts do you have? How many do your kids have? Most teens have at least a Facebook page and maybe a twitter account. With teens spending two – four hours a day online many parents feel anxious and worry about what their kids are doing and saying. How much social media is too much? If you have social media accounts you will understand the system better, be less fearful and able to guide your child into better habits than a parent who does not have a social media account.

Social media exposes the kids to outside influences that you might not like. It can promote more independence (good) and possibly more risky behaviors (not good). It can also help you keep track of your children (good). The kids are able to check what their friends are doing faster but they can also check in with you faster than in the past.

Do you feel shut out? It is critical that you talk to your teens and keep the lines of communication open. Talk to them in a casual manner about what they are doing online. Don’t ever discuss topics like this if either of you are angry. Be open-minded and try not to judge. Look at it from their perspective and ask questions to understand their viewpoint. Mobile and digital media are meeting several needs in their lives.

Talk to them about some basic issues. I tell teens to think about how they would like a future employer, admissions officer, or teacher to read what they are putting online. What you put online is there forever!!! What is their language like in their posts? Do they swear? What pictures are they posting? Could what they are saying damage their reputation or someone else’s?

Who are their friends? It is important that they do NOT accept “friend” requests from people they don’t know. This is how kids can get in trouble. I would suggest that you NOT be a “friend” on your kid’s Facebook page. Instead talk to them about what they are doing. Keep those lines of communication open. If you “friend” them, it would be like you are looking over their shoulder. What teen wants that?! We need to encourage independence and show our kids we trust them.

Let them know they are NOT to discuss family vacations and events when the family is not going to be home. After the event it is OK but not before. You don’t want your house robbed because of what your child put in a social media post.

Do you know the language of the Internet? Do you know that teens are coming up with a whole new vocabulary for texting and social media? I found the following sites that discuss this issue.

http://www.mobistealth.com/blog/terms-parents-monitoring-social-networking-sites/

http://digitaljournal.com/article/319016 – Social network ‘code’ words kids use that parents should know

http://techmamas.com/main/2012/02/social_networking_terms_social_shield.html – More terms kids use

I would love to hear any comments you have concerning this subject.

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