Sunday, April 12, 2015

Social Media and Kids. Tough Stuff.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how crazy, weird and out of control the world seems to be.  Everything moves at an intensely fast pace.  News on the front page of Yahoo changes by the hour, and most of it is either bad news or garbage. 

It’s frightening.

I think about my kids, and how different life is now as opposed to when I was growing up.  We didn’t have cell phones or computers, so when I went home from school no one could find me and bother me.

They had to call the house or come over.  That was it.  Only two options. 

My parents knew who was calling our house and if I wanted privacy I had to stretch the phone cord and sit in a closet.  Or around the corner.  My kids don’t have this issue, and I wish so badly they did.  My kids can have nonstop conversations via text and I have no clue what is being discussed. 

Yes I have passcodes for all their devices, but I’ll be the first to admit I don’t check them enough.  If there is a problem I am all over it, but by then the damage is usually done.

Kids don’t have the tools to navigate all the social media and online options they have today.  They aren’t capable of weighing decisions like we are.  They are inundated with messages and without a family watching closely over them, I wonder which message kids will identify with these days.  This goes for elementary school-ers, middle school-ers and high school-ers.

I know I did stuff I shouldn’t have done when I was a kid.  I was rotten to classmates for a few short years.  As kind as I was at home, and as good hearted as I know I was, I can remember things I did that make me shudder today.  I didn’t realize how my words could be so hurtful, and truthfully if there were social media in my heyday I am pretty certain I would have made some pretty shitty decisions.

Watch your kids.  Read their messages.  Limit their access to social media and other online forums.  They are KIDS.  They don’t have the tools to swim across the choppy, online waters.  We didn’t either, but we didn’t have to worry about it.  There is a chance your child is writing messages that are inappropriate; there is a chance your child is receiving them.  In most cases both children are good, it’s the decision making skills that are to blame. I work in a high school and over half the trouble kids get into is because of things they wrote online.  Or stuff they shared.  Or conversations they jumped in on.  

Be a parent.  Be vigilant and if you can’t be vigilant limit what your kids have access to.  I find the less my kids have as far as social media the less I have to monitor.  Which makes my life easier and keeps them out of trouble.

I have a friend who asks her kids, if they claim someone called them a name, "Are you?  Are you what they said you are?"  If they say no, she tells them not to worry about it.  We can't change what other people think and say. If they say they ARE what they were called, she tells them to either change it or accept it.

Period.

We all need to teach kids responsibility for their actions and their behaviors. Those tools will be useful well into adulthood.  What you teach your kids to put out into the world is what they are going to receive. This is true in everything, even online.  

Have a happy, safe and wonderful week with your kids. Check messages and social media, or even better, unplug.

Cheers!

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