…just one of the things us parents say to our teens daily. For things like dental hygiene and cleaning up after themselves the benefits are more clear. For others, like monitoring their social media activities, the end result may not be as clear to them. In another blog post titled “So you want to be my friend, huh? “ I talked about how to be a good friend to your child and their friends on social media. Although friending or following your child on social media is a great first step towards good digital parenting, it is only the beginning. Here are other things you should be doing in order to guide and monitor you teen on the services and platforms they choose to participate in.
- Know what’s out there. I’m not saying you need to be a social media expert, but find a blog or two that deals with social media and follow them. I suggest you choose at least one that is geared towards social media professionals because these tend to report information about new services and platforms being launched before anyone else. Blogs run by parenting organizations and publications are great but tend to report when a service has taken hold and teens are already entrenched in it. You want to be ahead of the curve slightly in order to guide your teen. A couple of my favorites are Mashable and Social Media Examiner.
- Reiterate your expectations often. If your child has a cell phone, maybe you covered expectations in the Cell-Phone Contract you presented when they first got it. If not, have a discussion, now! Do not assume your teen knows the “rules of the road” when it comes to digital citizenship. Have a frank conversation and present your expectations and rules clearly. Once you set forth those expectations remind your teen about them often to reiterate. I mean, has your child brushed their teeth 3 times a day every day after being told just one? I didn’t think so!
- Know your teen’s passwords, for all their accounts. I am not a snoopy mom; I do however reserve the right to log into any of my children’s accounts at any given time. It’s rare that I do, but the option is there if needed. My son is required to let his father or me know if he would like to join any new services or platforms, we discuss and approve or veto it and then get the password from the get-go. Also, have you ever lived with a teenager? I know mine would forget things like shoes or pants daily if my husband or I didn’t remind him! They will get locked out of an account; they will go into panic mode. You will save the day with the password before they miss the chance to like one more picture from their BFF!
- Discuss and ask questions. My husband and I both work in social media, so discussions about it happen often in our house which is a great gateway for conversations with our children. Sometimes we are surprised to hear that they have seen some viral ad or video, other times we talk about news items pertaining to services, and yet other times they clue us in to some trend or event. The point is, we are talking about it and our children know they can come to us. Make these conversations a regular occurrence, at dinner or in the car. Ask them why they like one service over another? Where are their friends posting? Who do they interact with the most? Keep the conversation light, open ended and non-judgmental and you will learn a whole lot more about your teens social media habits.
- It’s okay to say “I don’t know.” If your child wants to join a service or platform you’ve never heard of, it’s okay to say that you don’t know. Move forward and research it together. Find out why they want to join, what have they heard about it? Do a Google search and read some articles about it. Make an informed decision. Even if you say no to joining, your child will know that you did so after consideration.
Gone are the days of parents throwing up their hands and saying “My kids know more about technology then me!” When our children learn how to drive we do not just hand them the keys and send them on their way. We send them to classes, we teach them and we sit next to them and supervise. Just like driving, social media has long lasting effects in your child’s life and they need to be taught, guided and supervised while using it. We can’t expect them to just know how to do it, but we can’t teach until we ourselves learn about it.
What are some tips that you would offer other parents raising children in the digital age? Do you have a rule or guideline that works well for your family regarding social media? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! Feel free to share this post using the social share button below. Follow my blog and invite others to do so too!