Talking to Tweens About Social Media Use? You may not like it but while you are reading this article, chances are your kid is obsessing over Instagram. If you ever thought that speaking to a child about social media is not really required until he/she reaches teenage years, then you need to think again. Although kids less than 13 years of age are not technically allowed to use the popular social media sites like Instagram, there are many kids who are actually working around the system. There are quite a large number of children who are using fake birthdays and email address of their parents to open accounts in the popular social media sites. There is a very disturbing trend that has come to light in recent years – children nowadays converse more on topics like who posted what and when in Facebook. This is indeed scary!
There is no doubt about the good side of social media as it plays a huge role in inspiring the kids to celebrate the achievement of others. But parents should also be aware of the potential downsides of social media sites like cyber bullying and content that is totally inappropriate for them. But you can always talk to tweens about the proper use of social media and the risks that are associated with it. You need to start these discussions early. Here are a few tips to get you started so that you can comfortably teach your child about good social media habits.
Talking to Tweens About Social Media Use
Never make anything forbidden for them
Whenever someone requests a child not to do something, he/she will invariably do that and defy your instructions. So a slightly offbeat approach is the need of the day. Show the kids how they can use the internet and the various social media channels in a fun and informative way. Keep the rules simple at first. You can tell them to adopt the rule of asking the parents first or let them understand that if they have not played a game or used a particular app at home then they should not try that when they are away from their comfort zone – home. As the kids get older, you can modify your instructions and restrictions accordingly.
Do not give too much Information
When you give information about social media, do not make it scary; it should be simple. We do no tell kids that they will fly through the air if they do not wear seat belts; we just tell them that wearing it makes them safe and it is the rules. Kids will always trust you when you do not give too much information and keep the conversation simple.
Make your tween the expert on social media
Ask your tween to teach you how to use and explore the various social media websites. The best part is that when kids feel that they are being treated like experts, they tend to lower a lot of barriers. This technique works very well when you are about to deal with some awkward and uncomfortable issues like sexting.
Ask them to be nice on social media
The tweens need to understand that mean behavior is not at all acceptable on social media. You must tell your kids to treat others with respect and they should never post any message that can potentially embarrass or hurt the other person. They should also inform you if they receive any bullying or harassing messages from anybody on social media.
Think twice before hitting the “Enter” button
You should always remind the kids that anything they post can be used against them. For example, posting on Facebook that you are off to a vacation would give the robbers a chance to enter your house. Tweens should never disclose specific location of their house or phone numbers.
Be transparent about monitoring
It is a very good idea to monitor the social media use of your kids but always make sure that they readily agree to add you to their coveted ‘’Friends List” and always check texts and chats on a regular basis. Never keep the monitoring a secret; the kids should know when you are monitoring and how.
The kids should know that internet is not private
When you share information or photos, you are always at a risk of getting exposed at some point and this hold true for even the most locked down social media profile. The kids should be taught the concept of good judgment and should be discouraged, at all times, to gossip about or bully others. The words “Think twice, post once” holds good for both tweens and adults.
Lastly, one should remember that topics about safety topics is much easier if all these conversations become a regular part of our life. These conversations also helps to break down barriers between a tween and his/her parents. It shouldn’t be just a one time shot when Talking to Tweens About Social Media Use.