What is Social Media?
This YouTube segment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpIOClX1jPE gives us a good explanation. Social media, it is basically an opportunity to create, connect and communicate with people that share a common interest.
Another word, Social Media is a means for the generation X to connect with one another, and to share common interest and to communicate, whether it is Facebook, Myspace, Twitter….. It is like us, the generation Y, where we communicate via the phone or engage in connection through the playground, whereelse for generation X, the internet has taken over the medium of phone and the playground. Majority of their communication is now online and texting via the phone.
Social Media and Kids/Teenagers
So the question now is; would you allow your children to be involved in Social Media? If so how?
The Sydney morning Herald article by David Ho “What Teens Want”http://www.smh.com.au/news/technology/what-teens-want/2008/07/05/1214951103999.html is a good example.
As parents of generation Ys, we are facing a totally different era as our generation X children. I have two teenager/young adult in my home who are ‘reasonably’ tech savvy. I am online everyday and I even maintain two websites, so I am not totally ignorant about the internet platform, however social media is somehow quite daunting to us Generation Y. There are so many out there, and new mediums are “sprouting” every where…..so where do we start?
So Parents, have you accepted the fact that social media is here to stay? As they say, if you can’t win, why not join them? So why not make use of the advances of science and technology, and improve our communications as well.
Therefore the question that needs to be asked, to what extend would one allow their kids to dwell and roam the social media platform? And what can we do about it? Another word, should parents support their children in their pursuit of technology excellence or ban it from the home front?
I love this question and the challenges of it. One can easily fill out the whole blog page and we still have so much more to add.
I am a great believer of continuing personal development. As parents, we should constantly “upgrade” our skills set (just like we need to update our skills in the work force), as different time calls for different skill sets to be acquired. We have a responsibility to understand what is going on in our children’s lives and can’t hide behind the facet of “we horned our social skills through playgrounds rules, why can’t our kids do the same?”
Nowadays, if your kids are not technologically fluent, they will be left behind not only among their peers but in the workforce as well…
I had recently spent days and nights trying to understand and learning how to set up Facebook for my website, and finally got the Fan Page up, after consulting my children, various forums, YouTube and any friends that would be happy to share their expertise.
What about Twitter? My children advise me that Twitter is not that “useful”, why? Because they only allow communicating through one sentence, so what’s the point? I still went ahead and set up my account, but one thing my kids may never know, for those business savvy entrepreneurs, Twitter is the best place to horn your business headlines writing skills.
Note that the teenagers use the word “useful” when talking about Twitter or other social media medium. It made me think why the teens are so keen in social media… My son told me that it is the fastest way to get information through, i.e. if they intent to plan a gathering, they can upload the invitation onto Facebook and select the person/persons to invite. The chances of their friends receiving their Facebook invitation through their phones are higher than their e-mails.
Text Messages through mobile phones are just as easy. One can receive their messages anywhere and anytime (provided you have the phone with you 24/7). How can the teenagers afford the text costs? With mobile phone plans giving users unlimited text messages or MSNing, who wouldn’t be excited? You will also find their speed of typing text messages on the phone keyboard with their thumbs, where most parents would struggle to type correctly with one figure. That’s why all my text messages are typed by my children whenever I can get hold of them.
So parents, let’s support your kids and accept the fact that our generation X kids are going to be online most of their lives, so we as parents, let’s get cracking and get our social media skill up a notch together!
Why do most parents paranoid about social media?
- Lack of knowledge and ignorant about what social media is.
- Time Poor – We are all time poor, thus not making time to understand what our children are up to.
- Control and lack of support – Some parents tend to exert control over what our kids can and can’t do, rather than making an effort to find out what their children need and find ways to understand and support them.
How should parents support their children and overcome the worry?
- Make an effort to understand what social media is, and learn which social media platform your children use.
- Do not be afraid. Find the courage, set up an account and invite fellow parents to join your group. Learn about the program and understand the benefits of each medium.
- Open communication with your children. Once you have established some knowledge of the program, you would have established some credibility; and you will find you have something in common to talk to your children.
- Understand that social media is important for generation X, if you still feel you need to control what your children can and can’t do, at least give them the freedom to gain some knowledge of what is out there.
- Younger children – have time frame set for their social “gathering”. Make sure they are aware of the time they spent of it.
Steps to take:
- Know which program your children are using and upgrade your skills so that you know what you are talking about. [Hint: always ask for help from your children to set up the functionality (even if you know it)…this is one way of opening up the communication. Your kids may even think you are “cool” to be interested in what they are doing and becoming more technologically savvy].
- Set rules and guideline for social media usage within the household. For younger children, you can sit next to them when they are logged in, however for older kids, frequent communication is recommended.
- Discuss (or learn from them) with them about each program, such as what do they think about it, what do they think the disadvantages are, what they like and dislike about it, you may be surprised how knowledgeable they are, they will even tell you what to look out for.
- Constantly be aware of what your kids are up to, trust your gut feeling. If need be, log in to their computers (or mobile phones) and find out what they are actually talking about. If you do not have access to their passwords and user-ids, then this is the trick…… unexpectedly visit them in their study/bedroom when they are communicating online. Ask them what they are up to, and try to “catch a glimpse” of the communication on the screen. Sometimes we can go as “bad” as sneaking into their rooms (while the program is logged on) and read their communication, to make sure they are within the “family’s guidelines” of cans and cant’s. As parents, it is our duty to make sure our children are operating within the family guidelines. It is better to be cautious and safe rather than sorry!
- Understand your Internet Security software. When you install your security software, you can set up parenting control. Use these functionalities to control what your children can or can’t view (recommended for younger kids).
- For older kids, a better way to go about it is to establish TRUST. If you bring up your children to be respectful and honourable, they will have good judgment on what is acceptable.
- Time Management – Sometimes children can be carried away with their online chats, so make sure set up time frame for socialising and keep reminding them if need be.
From what age would you allow your kids to be involved in Social Media?
My philosophy is we should not shield our kids away from participating in the social media arena, instead get them involve from a young age. Guide them step by step, bring awareness of the advantages of social media, such as sharing information with family and friends, and the disadvantages such as relaying too much personal information on the web, chatting with strangers, and strict time management is enforced.
The sooner you start guiding them, the sooner they are being educated and able to protect themselves. It is better they make mistakes now when you are there to help and guide them, rather than later.
One good example is Facebook. If your younger children would like to be involved with Facebook, consider signing up yourself and help your younger children to set up their accounts as well. Be their “friend” on Facebook. Get to know who your children are communicating with. This way, you are able to pay close attention and monitor the flow of communication on their Facebook wall, and with your guiding hand, they will learn how to stay safe in the social media environment and the technology world.
Make a BIG deal of the following:
Social media is a means of communication; so let’s enjoy what the new technology has to offer. However I would recommend parents SHOULD make a BIG DEAL about:
- Awareness of internet safety
- Cyber bullying.
- As a parent, understand the prospects of cyber bullying and communicate with your children constantly about this topic. There are seminar sessions through schools and councils where parents can attend. Make a commitment to educate yourself of this topic.
- Social behavior – Social media creates a group of children/teenagers who are inapt in interacting, because they never need to. Therefore it is important to engage your children/teenagers to interact without technology in social gathering. Don’t give them an excuse to hide behind their computers and portable gadgets and avoid the need to acquire the necessary social skills.
So to all fellow parents, welcome to the technology world. May you have fun exploring and connect with your children through the social media.
Other reference: http://planningwithkids.com/2011/09/30/teens-and-social-media/