I love social media but I find it a little frustrating when it comes to my child. Now that we’re a few months into the whole iphone thing, I am a firm believer that we as parents should monitor our teen’s social media use (and yes, this goes for tweens as well). While that thought may be controversial to those of you that believe that kids deserve privacy, technology has changed the rules. And, I think we have a responsibility as parents to protect our kids. Here are my top eight reasons why I feel all parent’s should check out what their kids are doing online.
1. Apps can be bad news– I’ve seen Rosie’s phone and she plays pretty tame games like Sims and MineCraft. But, there’s lots of other stuff out there and if your credit card’s on file with the Apple or Google store, they can buy whatever they want. Not cool.
2. Selfies are your enemy– Teens snap them all day long and we’re not around to see what they send to friends. We’ve had lots of discussions that you never send naked or compromising pics but kids do. And, guess what, I’ve seen a few where they’re giving the other kid the finger. Not appropriate.
3. Kids have no filter– Kids say things on social media that they would never say in person. It’s almost like they think they’re in a protected bubble that gives them freedom to be foulmouthed or forward. I’ve witnessed first-hand some super ugly posts that shocked me coming from 12 year-old kids.
4. Drama never stops– If your teen’s not getting along with a friend at school, it doesn’t stop at 3:30. It goes on and on and on… all night because they can communicate easily. Teens have all kinds of options to continue the day’s drama and often they bring others into the mix. It’s easy to have a group conversation on Kik and get other kids involved that shouldn’t be.
5. It’s easy to bully-If a kid doesn’t like someone, they can assault them online and post some pretty heinous things. They can comment on Instagram and leave fleeting messages on SnapChat. However the worst offender to me is Ask.fm. A teen can go online, ask a an anonymous question for another teen to answer. A common one? “Why are you a hater/drama queen etc.” Can you imagine having someone post that every single day?
6. Everything is permanent– Sites like SnapChat make it super simple for your teen to share and then it disappears. Or does it? Kids don’t seem to understand that if they post something once, anyone can take a screen shot and keep it forever. Last year, a kid posted a pic holding a gun up to his head on Instagram. It wasn’t up long but it was captured by another kid and texted to me. I debated about calling the mom and did. I wanted to make sure he was safe.
7. There is no privacy– The message kids send to one friend can also wind up in the hand of many. Just because kids think they’re having a private conversation with someone on Kik, they may not be. Since you can screenshot everything, conversations are shared all over the place. Teens need to understand that what they say on social media, can be seen all over the place.
8. Other kids are showing their social to their parents– Just last week, a parent from another school brought an issue to my attention. Her daughter had seen some ugly things on social media about mine and she wanted to make sure I knew. I did, but most kids aren’t as open as Rosie. If you’re not keeping an eye on your kids social media another parent may be and it opens the door for you to get an unexpected call if they’re misbehaving. Nip it in the bud.
Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting you stalk your kid. However, pay attention to what’s going on in their lives. Set boundaries around phone, Kindle and computer usage. Know their passwords. And, yes, periodically you should monitor your teen’s social media use.