How to protect your children in the social media age is one of the biggest challenges of parents with teens and pre-teens. In a recent documentary by Anderson Cooper on #Being13, he uncovers how social media affects teens and how parents do not understand the effect of social media on their teens.
Many parents when it comes to thinking about how to protect their children on social media typically fall into one of these categories.
- Delay the age when children get on the internet or social media
- Operate in denial and believe their children are not in any danger online or on social media
- Passive and so cannot navigate social media nor understand how it works.
To be a good teacher, guide or protector you need to know whats going on to adequately prepare, educate and protect your child. The age that children get on social media is up to parents but the reality is that children from ages as young as 5 or younger are aware of the internet and social media. The earlier parents start to talk about the reality of the pros and cons of social media, the better equipped children are to navigate it.
According to a CNN study, Sixty percent of parents underestimated how lonely, worried and depressed their kids were and 94% underestimated the amount of fighting that happens on social media.
One of the things that affect teens is whether or not they are liked albeit online. A lot of value is placed on things like whether they were tagged in photographs, or whether they were invited to a party that seemed to have been the “talk of town”. In this social media age everything is online and teens can feel left out from what looks like fun. [READ: Social Media and Your Teens Self Worth]
How Parents can Deal
Parents need to get involved with social media to understand what their children are spending their time on. When parents stay relevant then they can talk to their children about the issues. If a parent does not understand what it means to be “tagged” then you probably cannot speak to a child who is upset about not being “tagged”.
When a parent understands how it feels when your comment is liked on social media, you can better understand when your young adult appears unhappy when something they shared is not liked.
To have a chance to successfully navigate parenting in the age of social media, parents need to be aware of what exists and play an active enough role to understate the terminology children use. [READ: Parenting tips in the digital age]
“Teens have always been concerned about popularity, but it takes on a whole new dimension when they can measure their status in likes, shares and comments”.
This is the reality of todays teens, parents can help their children keep all this in perspective. Parents should encourage children to do other things, to put down their devices and to spend time connecting with real people, building relationships, read a book and do things that does not suck them into the popularity contest of social media. It has been proven that Grades go up when less time is spent on social media.
Teach teens to turn social media into a tool they use to make an impact by sharing and encouraging people with messages, rather than seeing it as a popularity contest or a tool for validation.