Social Media and Children

Despite the negative statistics, some parents still feel the need to showcase the talent of their child to the world through social media. Here are a few tips to stay safe:

Monitoring


Some parents have failed to monitor what their child does on social media.

They allow him freedom without any orientation or monitoring.

By doing this, you are creating an opening for your child to be drawn into the whirlpool of social media.

Unlike before, when there were tons of unfiltered content to go through on popular social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, lately, these social media platforms have emphasized more on practices that allow you to see only things similar to your interest or which you are following. This means that if your child follows good content, he gets good content and those similar to those. This works vice versa. This policy is a good one to aid parental monitoring.

Control

Social media apps age membership starts from 13 years. For every social media app, there is always a setting section, where the user can determine who sees what he posts. Teach your teenagers the importance of protectingtheir own privacy. Have them search for and master privacy control features.Guide them to showcase what is needful and learn to keep what is personal, personal and just between you.

For children who are talented and are below 13, and who you wish to showcase on social media, then it becomes a part of your parental responsibility to control their account. Control what is posted, replies, and manage who they follow. As you do this,don’t be autocratic. Cue the child in. Let him know what is going on about him as it is his talent that is being exhibited/showcased to the worldvia social media. Let him see the encouraging comments and positive reactions to his achievements or talent. This will keep them inspired to keep improving.

However, this may also pose a down side on his emotional stability. How? We all know that in social media, there is the pressing need to become popular through likes. If for instance, the first episode of your child’s stunts performance got over a million views in the first week, then you post another episode the second week and you get barely a thousand. Your child may feel depressed that he didn’t get the required likes or attention he anticipated. What to do?

Don’t let the showcasing of your kids talent be determined by likes and don’t let your child get carried away or be fixated on this. Likes can lead to depression. So don’t push it. Rather, just have fun with it and encourage himto be fixated on his originality- people still recognize originality when they see it.

For older children who are self-managing their accounts, make them understand that certain things must be kept private and should on no account be disclosed to strangers via social media.

Part of the perspective you’d give your child/teenager will have to focus on the right & wrong side of social media. Ask yourself: For what purpose am I permitting my child to be on social media? What kind of value or influence will he gain from it that will improve his childhood experiences or life after childhood?Will it help him to achieve an identified purpose? …Or are you just granting permission for him to join because it is the trend and you don’t want your child to feel left behind? Yes, this may be understandable. However, the question remains: At what cost?

If your child (like you), is already on social media, you obviously know that the platform has it pros and cons. Which is influencing your child or getting across to him?

You Are What You Follow

Social media is highly contagious- do you know who your child is following or liking? What values do they have to offer? This is very crucial to who your child may turn out to be.  Anything your child sees or learns, he may think to try …or actually try it. For instance, if your child is following inspirational, matured/motivational personalities, you are probably going to get feedback in form of his behavior and attitude and this may serve as a bonus to your parenting.

Now consider your child following some controversial figures or personalities like celebrities with questionable character… the Bobriskys or Kim Kardashians- you would also get the feedback- so don’t be surprised when your child starts acting like these people.

But really, are these controversial personalities the one to blame or accused of being bad influence? I would say they are not the bad influence- it is the parents’ inability to tailor what the child sees or watch that is culprit.

Irrespective of age, if you don’t want to base your child’s social media safety on a matter of luck, deploy wisdom in monitoring their activity until at least, they show enough responsibility and maturity. You must however, understand something about privacy to do this successfully.

Privacy

We all have our personal spaces and we hate it when people invade it or don’t respect our judgment and personal preferences. This is also true for children- especially older teenagers- they dislike it when we are constantly in their face and don’t allow them make choices. This gets them irritated and very hard to convince to listen even if the point we are making is valid and for their good.

A full grown adult has high probability of following on social media, a star he sees on TV. This also applies to teenagers. So the earlier you tailor who your child watches on TV or follow on social media, the better.

So imagine what would happen, if you took your teenager’s phone behind his back and went ahead to unfollow a figure not befitting for him but whom he follows? Candid advice:  Don’t do this.What then do you do if your teenager is following individuals or organizations you do not approve of?

Be careful not to make a hero out of the controversial character he follows by getting angry and reacting based on your emotion. Do not begin to bad mouth the character- this may only strengthen his resolve to continue to follow the personality as he may believe that you are just bad mouthing because you don’t like the personality. Rather, engage your teenager. State your reasons and why following certain people is not advisable as compared to following other people who can be better influences. Point out other personalities he already like who are better influences compared to the controversial ones. If your teenager gains this perspective, it would drastically reduce his being caught up in the wave of negativity that exists in form of the unhealthy need for popularity, bullying etc. This would also serve as a road map for him. Through it all, maintain your cool- parental aggravation spoils everything!

Leave a Comment