“Can I get an Instagram account?”
This is what my 10-year-old just asked me this summer.
I said no without hesitation.
Not only is he not old enough to have an account according to Instagram’s terms of service, he also isn’t capable (yet) to be social online and here is why.
He had a little disagreement with one of his friends this summer, which included several other kids. To resolve the issue, two kids and two moms sat down and got it resolved quickly. They just needed a tiny bit of help to get the conversation started. Now think about how two ten year olds would have ‘resolved’ an issue online, say Instagram. It would have most likely included hundred or more of their not-so-close friends!
August is right around the corner. Kids are about to go back to school – at least here in South Carolina they are. For kids, this means excitement about new clothes, new school supplies, new friends, new classmates and all sorts of new gadgets.
Parents on the other hand will have the same old, same old (or at least that’s how it feels to me every year); packing lunches, driving kids to school and after school activities, worries about schoolwork, helping with homework. Not much changes from year to year.
Does this mean you as a parent are lulled into a false sense of ‘it’s going to be alright’?
Please, do not!
I am writing this piece to remind you to be diligent about speaking with your child this August, as well as every year right before school starts, about how to behave in school, on the bus, with their friends…and online.
The last piece of the puzzle, the online conversation, is one that should take place every single year as devices change, access to more and more internet changes and now with devices in school; timing of access to the internet changes even more!
So here are some of the online and social media related issues I suggest you address with your child before going back to school, per age group. This includes behavior on phones, iPads, tablets, computers, and gaming systems, at home as well as at school.
Age appropriate conversations to have with your child about social media.
8-11 year olds (4rd and 5th grade)
- no devices on in school
- parents should have all passwords
- report all bullying immediately
- no texting after 8 or 9 PM
- limit apps
- all location sharing should be off on device
- never ‘friend’ strangers
- as parents pay for devices, they need access at anytime
12-14 year olds (middle school)
- explain and talk about sexting
- report all instances of friends’ sexting to parent
- report all instances of friends’ bullying to parent
- limit phone use in school to outside of classroom
- no texting after 10 or 11 PM
- permission to download new social apps
- give guidance on what to say and never to say, what to take pictures of and never to take pictures of
- agree on how often you as a parent can look at their phone to go through conversations and pictures
15-18 year olds (high school)
- go over all previous rules
- talk about appropriate and acceptable photographs to post; no nudity, no alcohol, no embarrassing friends, no shaming etc.
- report all bullying to parent
- report all sexting to parent
- report all instances of depression, signs of suicide (friends) to parent
- phones can distract from school work; talk about usage; when and where is appropriate
- talk about the dangers of driving and texting – never allowed!
- talk about the dangers of driving and talking on the phone – only in emergencies!
- create a LinkedIn account and strategize about how their online presence can have a positive impact on their college admission process
Additional tips on navigating social media with your teen
Just this week, I was asked to partner with our local news station WBTW News 13. I was happy to share some of the tips I’ve mentioned above in my segment. Of course, it was very short, but I do hope that many parents were listening and taking notes. It’s never too early, and never too late to talk to your teens about appropriate online behavior!
Here is my LIVE segment:
“Social media consultant discusses teens’ Facebook use”
In my on-air segment, Libba Holland mentioned an article I wrote about Facebook and teens. Read that article here.
BYOD to school? How about schools providing devices?
As many schools now provide devices to kids as young as elementary age, talking to your kids is crucial to helping them be successful with online learning. The distractions of these devices can easily outweigh the potential learning benefits and it is not just up to the school to warn and monitor, you as a parent play a huge role in keeping your kids safe online!
As with all ‘rules’, rules about online usage and social media are made to keep your child safe. We all know the saying ‘rather be safe than sorry’. Unfortunately, making a small mistake online can cost you dearly! It can forever tarnish your reputation, as ‘the Internet’ doesn’t forget. Please be diligent in educating your youngster before something happens.
Let me know how you are working with your child(ren) to manage their social media. Leave me a comment below!
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Tips On Navigating Social Media With Your Teen
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