Today, teenagers and even tweens are connecting to one another all over the world via Social Media outlets such as: Facebook and MySpace. These young people are more savvy than their parents, which could lead to trouble for some young people. It is so imperative that parents communicate with their children, regardless of the age about Social Media and help them understand the reasons why they have to be careful with what they share through these venues. The discussions will vary according to the child’s age. These tips will help you better balance your family and Social Media:
#1. Have some requirements. First, as a parent you should be their friend on Facebook. That should not be optional. You have to know firsthand what your children are doing. I also recommend that you periodically sit down with your children and together review their privacy settings. When one of children updates their status, it should send a message to your cell phone alerting you of the update. This will allow you to know what changes have been made and if it is an appropriate post or not. This will also afford you the opportunity to require that an update be removed from their profile if necessary.
#2. Talk daily about Social Media use. Your children should expect that you will talk with them daily about their internet use. You should ask your children did they engage in any chats today. What did they write on their FB page today? Ask them if they received any text messages and did they send any. I believe that if you share with them that you are responsible for them as a parent in case in thing should ever happen, they may be more willing to comply.
#3. Think before Posting. Encourage your teen to think very carefully about what they plan to post, because once it is out there in cyberspace it can’t be retrieved. Teach your children that anything that they post can be copied, pasted, altered to paint a different picture and distributed for other uses at a later time. Also, teach your teenager that very soon they will be seeking employment and employers will be able to access their social media sites. Some employers may use the information shared on those sites to determine whether or not they will hire a person.
#4. Use your parental rights. As the parent, you have the right to set parameters around what you will and will not allow your children to access on the internet. You can check the history of which sites your children have visited. This will allow you to know what they are interested in. You can also limit the amount of time you allow your children to spend on the internet per day. I advise spot checking, because you don’t want to ever be in a situation where it was just too late. Be transparent with your children and let them know that you will be checking their sites.
#5. Safety First. There are a number of cases where sexual predators have been able to identify and locate children and teens through the personal information that was posted. Teens may think that they only sharing information that would be of interest to their buddies, however, if it gets in the hands of the wrong people it could be a very negative outcome. Educate your child about the importance of not accepting people as friends that they don’t know.
#6. Educate your child about Cyber bullying and inappropriate texting. Explain to your child the importance of using good judgment when they are texting or using Social Media venues. Inform them that the punishment can range from minor to legal action in cases where bullying caused someone to take their life or if inappropriate photos are sent via text. Inappropriate texting is often referred to as “Sexting.” This means that people are sending a text message with pictures of children or teens that are inappropriate, naked or engaged in sex acts. These types of offenses will result in criminal charges.
#7. There is a positive side. Although most of the recent news about Social Media is negative, there are some positive effects if used properly. Allowing your teen to create a Facebook or MySpace account or even participate in blogging allows them to have a creative outlet. It can give your teen practice in writing and also sharing their thoughts and views in a non-confrontational manner. These are important life skills for them to develop. Teens are also learning more computer skills that will help them work with technology smoothly in their future.
You can watch our Telly Award Winning Television Talk Show, Daily Balance with Kim Jacobs, on PBS - WTVI every Saturday at 10:00 AM. To learn more about Daily Balance with Kim Jacobs please visit www.dailybalancewithkim.tv. You can also follow us on Facebook at Daily Balance with Kim Jacobs. If you would like to hear more tips from me, you can see me as the Daily Balance Expert every Wednesday for a segment on Charlotte Today (WCNC – News Channel 36) between 11:00 AM -12:00 PM. Thank you for your continued support.