I have 4 children in middle school: 2 girls, 2 boys. They are plugged-in to their phones, iPods and iPads. They began with Angry Birds and Minecraft games and quickly became interested in YouTube videos of Nickelodeon stars. Next thing I knew, they were creating their own Instagram accounts. So, I did what I recommend all parents do…I started an Instagram account so I could follow them. I quickly realized that we needed to set some ground rules for what is and what is not OK for them to do on Instagram as well as future social media accounts. (None of them have a Facebook, Twitter or G+ account – yet!) Because I still like to think I’m cool and hip at 45, I told them if they are going to use social media, they need to keep it REAL: R – respectful, E –encouraging, A – amicable, L – low key
Absolutely no duckface! Respect yourself and others. The internet is forever and pictures don’t just go away. I explained that colleges and future employers will look at their social accounts, and that a foolish picture or comment can come back and haunt them.
We are to build others up, not tear them down. Posts should be of a positive nature. Comments towards others and pictures of others they post will be to thank, encourage or help others.
That means no keyboard warriors. There will be no engagement in fights. If someone starts with them they are to delete, un-friend, or block that person – then immediately notify their mother or me. Cyberbullying is real and it will not be tolerated. Nip it in the bud.
Low Key –
Keep it to a minimum. Social Media is fun and can help them stay connected to their friends, but the best way to stay connected with their friends is to BE with their friends. Turn off the technology and go have fun. Social Media is to be a low key, small part of their social experience. Have more fun with reality than virtual reality. As someone who is constantly plugged in, I appreciate what Social Media can do to help build up one’s personal brand, create new friendships and creative partnerships. But kids still need to be kids, there’s a time and place for social media and children / teens need to be aware of the potential consequences of their social media actions after they hit the ‘send’ button. How do you handle the Social Media question with your kids?
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