Social media has always been compared to a double-edged sword that makes life easier and hard at the same time. It offers unprecedented opportunities on one hand but possesses limitless negative impacts on the other hand. Children learn the rules of social behavior from their surroundings. They watch, learn and imitate their parents and peers, consciously or unconsciously, in all aspects of life. Things are not different when they join social media platforms. Hence teaching them the right social media behavior is as important as teaching social etiquettes. In a much simpler sense, just as we teach our kids how to ride a bicycle, we need to teach them the right way to navigate through social media as well.
Understanding Social Media
An important reason most parents point out for not being able to control the social media usage of their children is they themselves know very little about social media. You might know what social media is and might as well be using it. But, there are still things that you don’t understand or cannot comprehend.
I remember my enthusiasm initially when I joined Facebook and commenting on every post. I thought it was my right to provide comments on whether relevant or irrelevant. Posting takes time and little did I realize that I was slowly falling into a deep vortex without any sense of time. It started affecting my daily activities at home and one day my son pointed out that I was on my mobile ALWAYS!!. I had to discipline myself and attribute relevance to what I was posting and commenting. Therefore, it is important that you yourself have a better understanding of social media before you guide your children.
Posting in Social Media
Social media platforms offer unlimited opportunities for sharing your thoughts and experiences with the entire community in seconds. But, beware that any remark that you make in social media can remain permanent and is visible to the entire community unless you change the privacy settings of your updates and delete them if needed.
Social media is a representation of the society you live in. It doesn’t give you the freedom and luxury to be antisocial. Be conscious about the language you use, as you will be judged by others with respect to what you say and how you say. So, as parents, you can be a model for your kids by showing them sensible social media usage through your social handles. And teach your kids how to two important aspects: Security and Productivity.
Is Social Media Secure?
Your security is in your hands. Don’t use passwords that are common or easy to guess. Manage the privacy settings for personal and confidential updates. Deal with strangers with utmost care. Never indulge in a conversation when you are agitated or provoked. Make sure that your kids understand these aspects correctly.
It is true that Social media helps in learning new things and acquiring new skills. But, if not used judiciously, children can get exposed to child abusers and might end up damaging their emotional and psychological well-being. It is advisable to use real-life incidents to teach them the negative aspects of social media rather than you lecturing them about it.
Being Creative and Productive
Social media can be used in creative and productive fashion, to benefit individuals as well as society. It can also be used to kill time. The choice is yours. Even though these platforms were created with an entertainment-first approach, there are groups and communities in Facebook and LinkedIn that help in learning and there are even social media platforms that specifically cater to knowledge creation and sharing like Quora. Teach your kids about these different platforms and how to use each one effectively. And wait for them to introduce new social media platforms to you that you haven’t heard about yet.
Becoming a Model
It is time to put your understanding into practice. Never let your child think that you want them to stay away from social media platforms because your resistance will make them more furious. More importantly, they should be allowed to use social media and leverage its possibilities. By showing them how you yourself engage in social media networks, you can convince them that your intention is their safety and happiness. They should always feel that you open for a conversation about social media.
Some Practical Insights
Don’t let the virtual cyber world replace your kid’s reality. Make sure that they spend enough time in the garden and the playground as well. You can encourage them to post pictures of a plant they nurtured or a flower vase they made. Help them create a YouTube Channel to publish their views and activities. When you befriend your child through social media, never put your nose into everything your child does. Never parent your child on social media platforms. The key to effective social media usage is one simple thing: teach them how to connect the online and offline worlds and they will be just fine once they find that balance.
First Published at Creative Moms Hub