What age is the right age? Should my child get on social media or not? What should I do, all my child’s friends are on social media. While these are all great questions, you need to prepare for how to navigate social media with your child.
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Our children will be exposed to social media sooner or later. The question is how ready would they be? Social media rules can be confusing, there is a lot to learn and most importantly the internet never forgets. Parents feel a sense of responsibility to teach their children everything they need to know. However, when it comes to social media many parents are not doing enough. They are not having very necessary conversations on how to navigate social media.
How to Navigate Social Media with Your Child
Whether you have actively given your child access to a social media account or they will interact with social media with their friends or cousins. Help them to think through content being shared by asking What, Why and How?
What makes social media so sticky is that people are constantly sharing stuff! Thoughts, pictures, emotions, opinions, suggestions, selfies, emojis, lofe feeds and so much more. Many good things happen on social media but what about the not so good stuff? How do you handle that?
You can read How to Be a Digital Savvy Parent to learn some of the things you need to know to raise children in the digital world.
The solution is not to ban them from social media forever, they are very likely to get on eventually. The best thing you can do is to start to talk about the right way to use social media way before they ever get onto the various platforms. Do not focus on one specific platform as being good or bad because new platforms pop up every day. Trust me you cannot keep up! The platform in itself might not be the problem but rather it is how it is being used and what is being shared.
What Are You Sharing
What are you sharing? Asking yourself this question can make all the difference between falling victim to being trigger happy. That ability to pause and ask “what am I sharing”? Is it appropriate or inappropriate? Is it something that I would be happy to see online in 6 months? This is especially useful when it comes to sharing things on sites that promise that the content disappears – nothing you share online really ever disappears. The internet does not forget. Whatever you share online becomes a part of your digital footprint.
Why Are You Sharing
So why are you sharing? You know pausing and asking questions reduces impulsive decisions. If your child or teen gets used to asking why they are sharing something it could make all the difference between posting and deleting. Is it because they are bored? scared or upset? Are they sharing to empower and encourage someone else or to make the world a better place? I encourage you to encourage your child to use social media for good.
How Will It Affect Someone Else
How will what you share affect someone else? This can really help you think “so what”. Why am I sharing this and how will it affect the person reading this post or comment? It encourages mindfulness and forces the sharer to be less selfish when it comes to sharing things online. As parents, you also model this behavior in your use of social media. Imagine you go someone and are unhappy with the service, is social media the first place you go to and complain that Company XYZ sucks?? The kids are watching too.
Befriend them on social media
If your child is on social media, you can follow them and see what they are sharing and doing online. See if your child is going to be sharing things online to the whole world, they should be comfortable having you see it as well. If your child makes a big fuss, you should ask questions. Spend a few minutes weekly on google to see what is trending online, and have these conversations with your kids – it makes you relevant.
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Having these sorts of conversation with your child will go a long way in helping your child navigate social media responsibly. Remember, even if your child is not on social media, they might have a friend who wants to share an inappropriate photo of them online. If you have educated them, they will be equipped to answer appropriately.
Of course, a big part of navigating social media is the amount of time spent on these apps and the effect that excessive scrolling has on children and teens. One way to manage this is to implement the 30/30 rule which means for every 30 minutes spent online, they have to spend 30 minutes on a non-screen time activity. E.g. Go outside for 30 minutes or read for 30 minutes.
Start today, it is never too late or too early, help your child to navigate social media. If you need help contact us @LagosMums
For more on digital parenting, check out our Technology and Parenting category