Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat oh my! Social Media is a Parent’s nightmare!

Photo credit Cynthia Stacey

As a parent I am constantly bombarded with the social media frenzy and the questions that accompany it.  What age should they be allowed to use it? How do I monitor it? Helicopter parenting vs full on trust that they can handle it?  It is a never ending circle of advice, scaring tactics and information overload that would send anyone toppling over the edge of insanity.

I’ve learned over the years that my job as a parent is to teach them right from wrong, arm them with the skills they need to make their own decisions and let them age appropriately deal with issues on their own.  This applies to social media as well. My kids are on various social media accts and so far they have been successfully navigating this world and even teaching me a thing or two.  That doesn’t mean I let them have free reign.

 I have rules.

  • I subscribe to every social media acct that they do. They have to follow me and I follow them.
  • I monitor what they are posting. If I don’t like it, they take it down.
  • All security settings are in place so they are never just public domain. Friends only.
  • I teach them about the very real dangers of being online. Don’t talk to people you don’t know. Don’t post where you are. Don’t give out your email or phone number or any personal details.
  • They have to show me their unlocked phone anytime I ask. I check who they are talking to and what they are posting.
  • My favorite rule of all: If it feels wrong, it probably is. When in doubt ask me.
  • I limit the use of it as well: homework first, not at the dinner table etc.

 

One of the advantages I have is that my kids inadvertently rat each other out.  I actively listen to what they are saying, even to each other.  “Did you see Becca’s Snapchat story?”  hmm…I didn’t see that…”Becca show me your phone. Why am I not getting your Snapchat story?”  Please explains can be very scary concepts. (*giggling to myself at my own ingenuity!)

Thoughts?

So what about you? What are your thoughts on kids and social media?  Any tricks to keeping them safe that you want to pass on?

 

Should your child have a social media account?

5 Reasons You Don’t Need to Worry About Kids and Social Media

Why Social Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids

 

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Social Media and Kids

Every time I think about my daughter hitting teendom, my face does this:

mayaface

Image from theglow.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

It gets worse when I think about how social media will be a major part of her teenage years. And while I don’t believe in banning kids from social media land altogether, I do think (as do most parents) there needs to be limits.

And it’s not only Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter that we need to be aware of.

There is a boatload of apps that many parents (including myself until recently) don’t know about. I know a lot of moms and dads will get their hackles up over the suggestion that they don’t know what their kids are doing online. But let’s face it, kids can be naïve, sneaky, and risk-taking – a perfect storm for terrible social media choices.

I am not a helicopter parent. I think the idea of “stranger danger” is completely blown out of proportion. And I don’t coddle my child. But I really think social media has the potential to be really harmful if parents and kids don’t understand it or know how to use it responsibly.

Here are just a few of the apps that give me the shudders. None of them are directly aimed at the under-aged, but because it’s impossible to verify ages when registering, kids can easily use them.

Tinder

If you’re a grown-up, go for it. If you’re still in grade school, nope. This app describes itself as a new and interesting way to meet people, which really means a new way to hook up. And there is nothing to stop kids from using this app. Its anonymous nature can lead to cyber-bullying and the geo-location feature puts kids at real risk.

YouNow

A very weird website where anyone can make their webcam live so that others can watch them do mundane, everyday things and comment on it. Enough said.

YikYak

This app allows users to “yak” anonymously to the people closest around them (based on geo-location). Obviously, this can lead to some really harsh stuff that teens and young kids may not be able to handle.

Ask.fm

Used almost exclusively by kids, this app lets users ask anonymous questions about anything to other users. Again, this kind of app can open the door to harassment and cyber-bullying.

I love social media. Social networks and mobile apps are incredible ways to make connections and become a part of a community. But things can turn on a dime and kids can quickly get caught up in something ugly.

So what can parents do? I can’t give the best advice because my daughter is only two. Her social network is a gaggle of stuffed animals. They don’t say much.

But for parents of older kids, I think the best thing is to know what’s out there and insist on keeping the lines of communications open, even if it drives them up the wall.

What are your social media safety tips for kids?