Communication which used to take days, now takes moments. And while technology today opens up a world of opportunities, there are many tradeoffs and risks – especially for our children who are using smart phones and social media from the moment their eyes open in the morning, until their heads hit the bed again.
So Let’s Talk.
As Parents, it’s our responsibility to learn a little something about the social media apps our children are using, how they’re using them, how to protect them, and how to steer them toward social good.
Let’s Talk with one another first about what we need to know, and in many cases – what we don’t know we need to know. Then Let’s Talk with our children to let them know… we’re in the know.
Here are 3 great ways to kick start a social media conversation with your kids.
1. Start early. It is best to be proactive rather than reactive, and open lines of communication before the screens have “taken over”. The social media demographic seems to be getting younger and younger, and so leading your child into the world of technology will be critical rather than them leading you. Everyone is different, but by age 6, your child likely knows about social media – especially if they have older siblings and if you’re using tools like Facebook and Instagram. Specific and consistent rules for acceptable tools and time-limits will set the tone that you want them to discover, but you’re the keeper of the key to those doors.
2. Keep it going. Consistency will help keep your discussions going. If your child is actively using social media, they should know that as their Parent, you’re entitled to be informed about what apps they’re using, when, how, with whom. This is no different knowing where they are when they leave the house, what friends they’ll be with, and what time they’ll be home. Frequent check-ins and chats about their social accounts will give you peace of mind that they’re using the tools responsibly. Of course, this requires that you familiarize yourself with the technology.
3. Empower them. It amazes me how quickly children attune to technology. They run circles around us by the time they’re 8. By 12, they’ve mastered use of smartphones, computers, tablets and every new app that paved a path to these devices. Let’s give them credit and a sense of responsibility for making good choices. Ask your child to tour you through the latest app. Let them impress you. Empower them to come up with healthy rules and consequences for their social media activity. Lead them toward great examples of social good, and encourage their ideas. You could be raising the next Mark Zuckerberg.