I wrote an article about social media and Generation X two years ago, and since then I have seen enormous improvement in parents interaction with social media. For example. more parents, especially mums, have stepped up and set up online businesses. Education and information about social media are readily available. There are many How-to videos of social media through Youtube and other sources, so it is not as daunting if compared to a few years ago. On top of that, with the introductions of smart phones and iPads or tablets, it is so much easier to have access to social media.
However, I still have many friends who are still reluctant to sign up for Facebook. So I am rewriting this article to the group of parents out there who are still thinking whether or not you HAVE TIME and COURAGE for Facebook and other social media. I am writing from my experience with two young adults who had “forced” me to face the reality of the “social media world”.
So, what is Social Media?
This YouTube segment which was featured in 2008, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpIOClX1jPE gives a good explanation. It is basically an opportunity to create, connect and communicate with people that share a common interest.
As parents who have younger children or parents who are still new to social media, you may feel overwhelmed when talking about it. The first thing that may come to your mind is… is it “Facebook”, “Twitter”, “mobile phone”, “iPad”, “MSN” and you may be swamped with feelings of complete uneasiness. Issues of “safety” may arise, such as “I do not like it…is it safe for my kids?” “Who will see my or your kids’ posts on Twitter or Facebook?” “How to set securities for Facebook?”
… and many more questions.
These are all valid questions. I had to spend many weeks learning about Facebook and am still learning every day. However I would like to stress that, even though you may not like to be involved with social media, because it may not be your preferred medium to communicate, it is still important to have a reasonable understanding about what they are, especially Facebook. This is because your children may be using it, and it is crucial you may need to keep an eye on what’s going on, who are their friends, who can see their posts, teach them about protecting their privacy etc. Electronic social media will not disappear.
Why is it important that we educate ourselves?
- Protect your children – be aware of who they are communicating with.
- Security – be aware of who are able to see your post or your children’s post when you share it on Facebook or as text messages.
- Privacy – be vigilant of what information or photos are being shared. Educate your children about the potential of their personal content may be shared with other people on Facebook or other social media.
- Cyber Bullying – Talk to your children about it, as it is no different from any playground bullying.
- As parents, you have the responsibility to guide your children to be aware of online/internet safety. Therefore it is a good idea to upgrade your skills and know what is happening in your household.
How to overcome the fear of Social Media?
- Have a GO! Ask questions.
- Make an effort to understand what social media is out there. Find the courage to explore and do some research over the internet.
- Attend seminars and social media classes.
- Connect with fellow parents and have a discussion group about it. Learn about the programs and gadgets that are out there, and understand the benefits of each medium.
- Openly communicate with your children – Once you have established some knowledge of social media, you will find you have something in common to talk to your children about; you just never know…your children may invite you to be their friends on Facebook.
It can be really rewarding to be online and be connected on different social media platforms. However, just choose the one that you are comfortable with.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Share your views below or head to Facebook Page And I have a poll on the GoParents Facebook Page: how old do you think children should be before signing up for Facebook?