Have you ever wondered what we tell parents? As you’ve mostly likely gathered, we at #SociallySafe speak to a number of students, but we also talk to parents about social media, online safety and cyberbullying. Guess what we tell them… that we actually really like social media.
That doesn’t mean that we think you should break the age restrictions and sign up behind your parents backs, it doesn’t mean you need to be on every single platform. What it means is we think it’s a great tool when used how it was meant to be used.
So when we talk to parents we tell them where you guys are hanging out, we tell them if it’s a photo, video, or text only app. We explain to them what geotagging and hashtags are. We talk to them about the privacy settings, and safety concerns associated with each platform. We explain why each platform has age restrictions. For most of us parents we didn’t grow up with social media so it makes us nervous. It’s something so new we are just learning it ourselves. When we read the papers and articles, most of the things we read are all the negatives of social media because that’s what is usually talked about. It’s not very often you hear good news stories about Snapchat or other platforms, or positive ways people are using social media.
We tell the parents that they need to be on it as well, if you are on it or asking questions your parents should be as well. That even if they have no intention of tweeting or snapping a story they need to educate themselves about the platforms. We suggest they sit with you and have you explain to them how you use each platform. Let’s face it, you guys know better how to use the platforms then we do so why not let you teach your parents. The parents we’ve spoken to really like this idea, why don’t you try it with your parents.
We talk to the parents about online stranger danger and habits we sometimes create by allowing you to go to the computer every day at the same time and that we recommend they change it up. We explain what chat rooms are and how they work. We also tell the parents what we tell you, that if you are online you need to have your parents connected with you if you are embarrassed to have mom or dad following you on Instagram create a fake account together with no identifying features so you know it’s mom/dad but your friends don’t. We also tell them, as well also tell you – they need your password. You live in a digital world and are posting everything online, who you are with and what you are doing. So many of the apps are for the here and now like Snapchat Stories it can’t wait until you get home to post it. We also suggest that the parents sit with you and go through your accounts together, talk about who you are connected to, what you post, but also what your friends post and say, that too is creating an online image of you. If you have friends who are always using bad language and posting inappropriate things that too may impact you and the way people see you.
We also recommend that phones and devices not be up in your rooms, research has proven that teens/tweens actually need more sleep than they get and by having your phone or device with you at night you tend to stay on it later, wake up throughout the night to check and make sure you’re not missing out on anything (FOMO). We also suggest creating or downloading a social media contract that you create together with some rules and guidelines.
We also chat about parents sharing information of their kids on their Facebook & other social platforms and pages, what pictures and things are mom and dad saying about you online? This too will have an impact on your digital footprint.
After we get through all of the safety concerns we tell them that even though it can be overwhelming, we still really do like it, and that with their guidance they can actually help you on it, and that it’s a fantastic tool when you use it the way it was intended to be used. Social media was not developed as a means to post mean and cruel things about people, it was meant to connect people. A way for people to communicate positively. It can be a wonderful tool for researching for a school project never before could we tweet a business or person and get a response, now you can ask your questions and most will answer you. It’s a way to showcase the positive things you are doing, your volunteer work, if you play a sport and are hoping for a scholarship have your parents video you and create YouTube video’s that showcase your skills. We know that you will be Googled for jobs and university/college so post positive, talk to you parents about social media and get them involved.
Comment below to ask Kerry & Stacy of SociallySafe any Social Media related questions or to suggest topics you would like to learn about.