Tips for Parenting in a Social Media Age

Recently, someone in my parenting geared bible study had mentioned they didn’t really “get” technology. I had nonchalantly mentioned to them that I worked in social media and would be more than willing to give some tips regarding figuring out Facebook, Twitter and the like. Little did I know that God had bigger plans for the gifts He has given me and I was asked to speak about those tips with my entire bible study.

I wrote some notes and speaking points down and was able to tell them why I think learning social media is so important as a parent and figured instead of just keeping it to myself and my study members that I would share here too.

Social Media Parenting Tips

In my group, we’ve been talking a lot about how we, as parents are responsible for growing Godly women and men, and creating boundaries to make them the healthiest adult they can be. With the rise of social media and the issues that come with it; cyberbullying, pornography, horrible language, encouraged drug use, gossip, sexual predators this is the exact place where we as parents need to be.

With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Foursquare and a thousand smaller social networks it may seem overwhelming, but don’t be intimidated, because your kids need you and understanding their world will give you the advantage and tools to parent that much better.

Although there are many tips and suggestions I have, here are 3 of my biggest parenting tips for social networks.

#1 Sign Up

Join social networks that your child uses, or if they’re younger than the age minimum sit with them while they browse the internet making sure you interact with them. It’s the best way to educate yourself so that you can in-turn protect your kids.

And better yet, if it’s a social network for adults as well, ask them to show you how to join if they have an account or sign up alongside them. Going through the sign-up process together allows for opportunities to discuss appropriate use, concerns you have for them, and see how savvy they are about their own privacy features.

#2 Privacy

“42 percent of teens ‘sometimes’ or ‘always’ accept social networking friend requests from strangers”

What a shocking statistic. In order to gain back some control against privacy issues I recommend using the most strict privacy settings available, especially when it comes to a tween or younger teen. Review every.single.one of the options on your privacy settings page and adjust accordingly. Facebook’s default is to keep information public until a user makes it private (although Facebook is a little stricter with minors’ accounts). The “Friends Only” setting is a good choice for most items, to control who’s seeing what, but with advanced Facebook settings, you can be even more selective, choosing specific people by name to show posts, messages, and images to.

Make sure you choose the settings that allow you to be notified and have to approve everything you’ve been tagged in (including photos) before the tag links to your page. That way you/your child can approve the information before it’s made public and make sure it’s legitimate. Using innappropriate images or posts and tagging others in them is one of the biggest ways to cyberbully, if this is restricted by privacy settings you’re one step ahead of the game.

#3 Set responsiblities
Believe it or not your child is making their digital footprint from the moment they enter any online community. Making it even harder to make a good impression for friends, teachers and even future employers and colleges.

Recent studies found that nearly 60 percent of employers and 80 percent of college admissions officers use social networks to screen applicants.

In many cases, once you put something out online, even if you delete it, it can still be found through search engines or an internet archive search. Twitter is the biggest social network where deleting comments doesn’t really matter, plus with the age of the “screenshot” internet users can be put in a very tricky spot.

Social media is like toothpaste, once it’s out of the tube pretty hard to try to get it back in.

Toothpaste

For example, last week, the person in charge of KitchenAid’s Twitter Feed posted a controversial politics-based comment, {presumably intended for their own twitter feed} and could have cost them their job.

So it’s imperative that parents set rules about what’s appropriate to post.

Rule of thumb: Have them ask themselves if they would be embarrassed with their teacher, pastor, grandparents seeing it. If so, they should probably not post it.

InternetYou have ever right to set time limits on their amount of online time. You will probably want to base their time limit using their age, maturity, other responsibilities, and day of the week. Key times to limit or restrict their internet time would be during meals, family time, bed time. Often it’s hard to unplug from social media, but healthy to take breaks and also make sure we connect with reality.

Because we live in a digital age, face-to-face communication, empathy, and ethics are used less and less and values are becoming muddied by the increasing influences in our world and on the internet, while we can’t put our kids in a bubble (although I’m sure some of us would like to) the best thing we can do for them and ourselves is to place our own reservations aside and step outside our comfort zones to build God loving, empathetic, responsible citizens. Social media is not going away, shouldn’t we be prepared for our children’s sake??

What steps are you taking to learn more about social media? Do you have any tips you’d like to add?

               

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Jennifer Bullock

MommyB Knows Best is a family friendly website that features fun tips and tricks for parents, fresh segments you won't see on other websites, honest in-depth product reviews, and great giveaways. For more information about MommyB and MBKB check out the MommyB Is page.

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I notice that a lot of people have their Facebook photo albums open for the entire world to see. This is so scary to me. My brother in law posted pictures of my kids on his Facebook without my permission and I had a stern talk with him. He couldn’t understand why I freaked out.

  • This is one reason I am soooooo glad that my entire job is to stay current on all social media tools. Parents cannot be afraid of them or not make time to learn to use them because their kids WILL. Great post, amazing tips! Especially love the privacy one.

  • Great tips. I think it’s also great to for parents to share their own experiences with the Internet. Maybe, we’ve done some not so good things on the web like left a negative comment on a FB post or tweeted something about our annoying neighbor only to find out they were following you.

    Kids are more receptive to our advice when offer examples from our own personal lives. Keep the lines of communication open.

    • Great tip Yum Mommy 😉 I also spoke to a different group of women at the same bible study and said a great way to check ourselves is to, before we get online, pray that our behavior be honoring to God, that He would direct our speech, I think often times we leave Him out of certain parts of our lives too, internet included.

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