Have you ever wondered what we tell the kids?

As you’ve mostly likely gathered we at #SociallySafe speak to a number of students, & community youth about social media, online safety and cyberbullying. Guess what we tell them….. that we actually really like social media.

That doesn’t mean that we think they should break the age restrictions and sign up behind parents backs, it doesn’t mean they need to be on every single platform what it means is we think it’s a great tool when used how it was meant to be used.

So when we talk to the kids we explain to them what geotagging and hashtags are and how they work. We talk to them about the privacy settings, and safety concerns associated with each platform. We explain why each platform has age restrictions. We also tell them that for most of us parents we didn’t grow up with social media so it makes us nervous. It’s something so new we are just learning it ourselves. When we read the papers and articles, most of the things we read are all the negatives of social media because that’s what is usually talked about it’s not very often you hear good news stories about Snapchat or other platforms. Or positive ways people are using social media.   We suggest they sit with you and have them explain to you how you use each platform they are on and using. Let’s face it, they know better how to use the platforms then we do so why not let them teach you. Engage with them in a world they love and have embraced.

We talk to them about online stranger danger and habits we sometimes create by going to the computer every day at the same time and that we recommend they change it up. We explain what chat rooms are and how they work. We also tell them what we tell you, that if they are online their parents need to be as well and they need to be connected with you. We suggest that if they are embarrassed to have mom or dad following them on Instagram create fake accounts together with no identifying features so the two of you know its mom/dad but their friends don’t. We also tell them, they need to give you their passwords. They live in a digital world and are posting everything online, who they are with and what they are doing. We also suggest that they sit with you and go through their accounts together, talk about who they are connected to, what they post, but also what their friends post and say, as that too is creating an online image of them. If they have friends who are always using bad language and posting inappropriate things that too may impact them and the way people see them.

We also recommend that phones and devices not be up in their rooms, research has proven that teens/tweens actually need more sleep than they get and by having their phone or device with them at night they tend to stay on it later, wake up throughout the night to check and make sure there not missing out on anything (FOMO). We also suggest creating or downloading a social media contract that you create together with rules and guidelines that work for your family.

We also chat about parents sharing of information of kids on their Facebook & other social platforms and pages, what pictures and things are you saying about them online? This too will have an impact on their digital footprint. Remember what happens on Google, stays on Google!

After we get through all of the safety concerns we tell them that even though it can be overwhelming, we still really do like it, and that with your guidance they can actually be a digital leader. When it’s used the way it was intended to be used social media can be a fantastic tool. Social media was not developed as a means to post mean and cruel things about people, it was meant to connect people. A way for people to communicate positively. It can be a wonderful tool for researching for school projects – never before could we tweet a business or person and get a response, now you can ask your questions and most will answer you. It’s a way to showcase the positive things they are doing, their volunteer work, if they play sports and are hoping for a scholarship they can create YouTube video’s that showcase their skills. We know that they will be Googled for jobs and university/college so we encourage them to post positive, to talk to you about social media and to know what is online about them. We encourage them to be a Digital Leader online and to be #sociallysafe.

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