Social Media has become a widely used part of our lifestyle. Whether your a millennial, who grew up with social media being a go to for all things cool, fun and socially oriented, or your a baby boomer who has recently resigned to using social media, the hard truth remains- Social Media is here to stay.
Love it or hate it, you will end up using it. As a parent, you may have your reservations letting your child be active on social media. There’s so many concerns and questions. What’s the right age? How much is too much? Should I add restrictions? Should I monitor her activity? What about privacy and location settings? You also may have questions on your own social media use. What is acceptable
posting? What about reposting funny or crude memes? What’s appropriate? How do privacy settings work? Do me and my child “follow“ each other? While you may have to do some research before you decide what’s best for you and your family, remember, other people have different circumstances and everyone will have a different experience. Your choices are not wrong, if they are not those of your peers. Discuss your options, talk to your kids and your partner and figure out what works best for you.
As a mom who is active on social media, a wellness coach and experienced youth counselor, I have come up some personal guidelines I like to follow. When posting my own social media posts and activity, I always ask myself, “How will my kids feel when they see this?“, because I know, eventually, they will see it.
Let’s face it- your settings can be private all day long but your posts never go away. Anyone can recover anything. People take screenshots. The internet is not a perfect technology and everything ends up in a cloud somewhere. Your kids could see all of it, at some point. Your political posts. Your arguments. Your selfies. Your sexy pics or nudes. Yep. They might see it all.
I cringe at things I posted years and years ago and they weren’t nearly as bad as what I see some parents posting today. So, I ask myself, how will my boys feel when they see my post? I always look for the answer to be something like “proud” or “supported” or “inspired”. Most of my posts are positive, motivating, educating and joyful. Of course some are slightly edgier and there is a very occasional rant, but all of my posts I would be completely comfortable with my children seeing.
I also sometimes ask myself, how can I utilize a post to speak to my kids? I choose to be ”friends” with them, follow them and let them follow me. I know they see my posts. Even if they do not admit it, or they do not throw me a thumbs up. I know they see. So spinning a post to specifcally speak to something they may be going through, or to communicate something important to them is something I do quite often.
Sometimes a meme is way more than just a meme. Think about it, how many times do you scroll Instagram and see a meme and think, wow, that was meant for me. Using social media to inadvertently do that for our kids is genius, especially during those tough teen years when verbal communication is more challenging.
Instagram has this private sharing option (DM) where you can send a post to someones inbox. If I see something my son would be interested in such as a sports related post, an inspiring post from one of the influencers or a valid informational post I will shoot it to his DM. I know he sees them even if there’s no response. It is simply another tool to use to let them know you are thinking of them, you are listening to them, you are noticing and supporting them. And whether you think so or not, I am telling you, I promise you, that it all matters.
What you post, what you say and how you support your kids on and off social media matters. So whatever you choose to do, however you decide to utilize social media, make sure you are 100% comfortable with what your posting. Make sure you are aware that there really is no privacy. I always say, if you would not say out loud and in front of another person what you post while hiding behind the computer, rethink your post.
And if you choose to keep you children and yourself away from the internet, at least educate yourself for when the kids get hold of it behind your back. Because they will. The schools all have computers now, their friends have phones and even the library and rec-centers have WiFi enables devices like chromebooks. The more you know the better you can handle the upcoming situations.
It is only my intention that this blog post sparked thought, conversation and helped some of you in some way. If you are one of those people, I would love to hear your thoughts or your experiences.