Parenting Tweens to Teens – Social Media Responsibility
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Hey, girl! Omgoodness, I have sooo much to tell you.
Let’s talk…better yet, hit me up on Insta or Snap Chat?
Do you have a YouTube Channel?
You do! That’s dope.
Hold up, I need to tweet this…
If you’re busy we can Kik it if you still use that.
What?! Don’t you use any of those?
I guess I can message you on Facebook but isn’t that for old people?
Chances are if you have a young person in your care you have heard some form of the conversation above. Alexander Graham Bell had no idea what he started when he invented the telephone. Who knew that it would lead to all this?
Oxford Dictionary defines social media as websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. In short, social media is using various kinds of virtual avenues to meet and interact with other people at will.
In theory, this is a great concept for adults or businesses – for kids – not so much. Social media is like an open door to EVERYWHERE. Most parents simply don’t allow their children to go everywhere. Parents place boundaries, and rules for their children to follow for their own safety at school and at home. The same goes for Social Media. Kids are kids and they do not know how to police themselves.
There are 3 basic questions that I give for tweens and teens when we discuss Social Media Responsibility: Who? What? Why?
Who are you communicating with?
REALLY, do you know this person or group IRL (in real life)? Let me be clear, some young people have a really broad definition of “know” and a skewed definition of real life. I often ask, have you met this person face to face. This helps them to put perspective on if they are communicating with a friend or communicating with a stranger. The second part to this is that many youths consider virtual interactions real life. It is important to express to our young people that although conversations occur via video, instant message or text it is not real life. A virtual interaction can be a complete fantasy for some people.
Your tween or teen needs to understand that just because they are being honest and have no evil agenda there are predators in the world who use social media to build familiarity. They then use the familiarity to prey on young people. Again, emphasize do you know this person – have you met face to face?
What are you talking about?
Get details, be specific and persistent when you ask your young person what are you talking about when you are on social media. Social media is a very public forum and many tweens/teens do not fully understand how far they are reaching when they are virtually “talking” to people.
Because they don’t understand the range they will freely talk about personal facts and issues that should only be shared with family and close friends. Don’t stop asking what they are talking about. Let them know that there should be limits to what they text, say or chat on social media.
They should never disclose their location, age, real name or school to anyone they don’t know directly. They should never bully, threaten or intimidate someone on social media either individually or in a group – and yes your little Suzy or Johnny would say something mean and hurtful.
Why are you communicating with this person?
Tweens and teens need to be taught to ask themselves why am I interacting with this person? Did this person seek you out? Teen speak: follow you, friend you, tweet, dm, inbox, message or snapchat you? The origin of the encounter is important because our youth need to know that everyone who reaches out to them does not always have a good heart and does not necessarily have good intentions toward them.
The most critical part of social media responsibility is making sure the parent or caregiver is monitoring their young person’s activity.
Here are 3 action steps for parents/caregivers:
- Instruct them on which sites and apps you allow or do not allow.
- Enforce your guidelines with a consequence if you see activity that is not permitted.
- Inspect their phones, computers, emails, apps, social media profiles, and picture galleries.
Social Media isn’t going away anytime soon. Start building a solid foundation in Social Media Responsibility for your Tween growing into a Teen – now!
Let us know. What are your guidelines for social media responsibility? Are they working? Share in the comments below!
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MaKisha Reed is a Mother of 5 for 28 years (married and divorced). A former teen parent of twins who defied the odds. She has a B.S. and M.S. A. as well as a national certificate in biblical counseling. Ms Reed is a logophile. She absolutely loves the written and spoken word. Which explains why she is drawn to teach, counsel, write and READ. She would have a home library of she could. She says “My life has been very challenging and I’ve ‘seen it all’. Overcoming many struggles through Christ, I am led to help girls and young women to recognize the greatness within themselves.”
Greater Girls offers Social Media Responsibility, Sexual Safety, Empowerment, Counseling and Etiquette sessions. You can find Greater Girls on Facebook and Instagram or email her GreaterGirls1 at gmail dot com.
Ohhh, the terms teen use in social media sounds like a newly-invented language. I can totally relate coz I have two teens living under my roof. My husband and I give them rules in regards to screen time. There’s also been a discussion on how they need to be more responsible on what they post, how they react and interact with people in social media. gadgets are not allowed during meal time and schooling should be the top priority. Been talking to them about cyberbullying too. Advice like yours are really appreciated, thanks!
Hi, Nena! Yes it does! It’s so great that you are being intentional in this area. It is a hard to navigate social media well with our tweens to teens but it’s so important! Thank you so much for visiting!
Tiffany Montgomery says
Wow MaKisha! That was so packed with great advice! I love the reminder that our Tweens have a very loose definition of “real life” interactions. We decided as a family not to allow cell phones until they are driving – so social media is not at their finger tips. We also send them outside to “play” so they are face to face with their friends… but I dread the day they no longer “play”… Teen years are commingJ! Thank you for sharing!