It’s not just a good idea. It’s an absolute imperative for every parent, to talk to their kids about social media (SM) — every day. But, what do you say?
First, it’s wise for you to develop your own SM skills. And, the best way to start to do that is to maintain your own SM profile: open a Facebook (FB) account, and try tweeting on Twitter, to get started. You can’t know everything, so don’t pretend that you do. But developing your own SM skills can help you talk more relevantly to your child – and most importantly, give you the knowledge to help keep your child out of SM trouble.
Ask your teen or tween about what they are doing on SM – every day. Share your own experiences, as well, as a way to open them up. Ask questions like: “Did you use the computer or Internet today?” “Who did you hear from?” “Did anyone text you today?”
Make sure that your kids know that talking about SM is normal – and sharing information about who and what they see in SM is something that you are interested in and care about.
If your kids are just getting started with SM, then ask them if they are interested. You may be surprised to find out that they already have an FB profile. If they do, then tell them you’d like to see it – and friend them.
Kids tend to work with the same SM tools that their friends have – so you can start a conversation with your child and his or her friends about SM as a way to see if they are active or just interested.
For every SM tool that your child is using, make sure that they know how to use the privacy options appropriately. This is a first and critical step, for helping your child to avoid SM trouble.
Consider establishing an SM contract with your child. The contract lets your child know that SM is a privilege – and if that they are obligated to conduct themselves with appropriate SM behavior or lose that privilege. On a later blog post, we will share a model SM contract along with information on how you can implement a contract with your child.
Most of all, use your parental radar – stay tuned in with your child. SM can be a wonderful adventure. But, be on the watch as well, for classic warning signs which can alert you that all is not well – such skipped meals and activities, lack of sleep, or lowered grades. If you notice any of these, then check in with your child and step up your SM monitoring.
– Signing off for now, SS