Parental Guidance: Social Media

social-media-logosIn no way do I consider myself an expert of social media!!!  However, I am a person that attempts to leverage it for influence, and a parent trying to navigate it with my 3 daughters.  Recently, I was asked to share my thoughts to a group of preteen parents on social media guidelines.  Here is a few things I talked about.

The first thing to understand is that “Social Media” isn’t a fad, it isn’t going away.  Even if you choose to ignore it, it will not cease to be an issue for your kids or yourself.  Today, individuals spend more time on their mobile apps than they do their desktops.  As a generation that began with a Webkinz account they understand and know how to navigate social media.  So what do you do?

Get an account

If your son or daughter wants a Facebook, Instagram, or twitter account, then you should join as well.  It will be key to monitor their activity, but more importantly so you can learn how to speak a language they are already speaking.

Learn from your kid

I recall Jon Acuff saying it this way, “Don’t be afraid to talk to someone half your age.”  They are the experts, learn from them.  Your son or daughter will love to teach you for a change.  Social Media platforms are constantly changing and they will keep up with the changes, so don’t be afraid to ask them.

Understand their definition of a computer

Adults see laptops and desktops as computers.  A computer for a kid or student fits into their pocket.  If your child has an iPod, they have their own personal computer.  Not only does it go everywhere with them, but they can access without you knowing.

Never give an all access pass

The age, maturity, and trust you have with your child along with your familiarity with social media should determine the level of freedom they have.  All kids and students need some level of guidelines, and the purpose of the guidelines should be to lead them to maturity.  I know a parent of a 11-year-old that shares an account with her daughter, that is a great place to start.  We didn’t let our oldest have a Facebook account until she was 15, and even with that we started with some clear guidelines.

Guidelines are for accountability and should be considered on an individual basis based on maturity.  Here are some guidelines to consider:

1.  Set a time limit and number of times they can check their account.  Start small and increase as they show maturity.

2.  Know their passwords and check their account often.

3.  Monitor and approve apps.  We used to share an Apple ID account with our kids and every app had to be approved.  We talked about why things were and weren’t allowed.  Today our older girls have their own accounts.  We still keep an eye on them, but we now have a level of trust with them because they’ve proven themselves.

4.  Talk to them about what is appropriate and not appropriate to post.  We’ve spent some time here with the girls, mostly pointing out what other people have posted.  I’ve made it a personal rule not to post something negative about anyone or a situation.  Once it is out there, you can’t take it back.

5.  Who are they connecting with?  Instagram and Facebook are the 2 platforms our daughters use.  We monitor who they are connecting with and will from time to time ask them to unfollow individuals for various reasons.  If you don’t want an individual in your home, then why allow them access to your kids through social media?

See self-governing as the end goal

When a child learns to swim there is a process:  they start with “swimee’s” then maybe move to a life jacket before you let them move into deeper water.  They move on to swimming without assistance, but you still monitor and regulate how deep they can go.  If they struggle in the deep end, you will have them come back inside the ropes.  You want them to be able to swim without you having to watch over them.  The same is true with their social media.  As they prove themselves faithful you can let them have a little more freedom.  Always be ready to pull them back in if they can’t handle the new freedoms.

Model an attitude of accountability

Who are you accountable too?  Mandy and I have an open policy to our accounts, texts, emails, phones, and internet history.  She can ask me to unfollow someone, I’ll do the same if I have a good reason.  We’ve discussed things we posted and probably shouldn’t have (ok, mostly me).   Set the example for your kids in how you respond and the personal guidelines you set.

Posted on May 17, 2013, in Family, Family Ministry, Parental Guidance, Parenting, Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Reblogged this on allaboutmanners and commented:
    Good advice here.

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