By: Natalie Blais
Social Media and Teens
How to stay connected, even when Social Media really isn’t your thing
Social Media has become the great connector and common thread that knits us all together. Whether you are a teen in the USA or a technology student in Beijing, social media puts us all on a level playing field when it comes to a window to the world.
Over and over again, I hear parents say they hate social media. They hear the media reports about bullying and kids taking drastic actions to escape the constant barrage of incoming pressure. While social media can be used to engage on a very unhealthy level, the reality is, parents are critical to our children learning how to connect, communicate and engage using social media. It is our responsibility, as immigrants to the digital age, to learn the language and culture of social media and then ensuring the generations that come after us are educated and armed with digital citizenship.
Social media is the most incredible key to your child’s world. You can literally stand “behind” them and see the world as they see it. Browse any Instagram feed of a teenager and you can view the world from their eyes. As an image based social media platform, your child is posting quotes and images that pull back the curtain on how they feel they fit into their social circles and peer groups. Imagine standing behind your child and seeing life as they see it. Social media is the key to that engagement.
Parents who refuse to learn the platforms their kids are on are missing out on the greatest opportunity to truly create deeper relationships with their kids. Actively participating and connecting online will give you credibility with your kids and a doorway to open up a world of conversations.
Imagine being able to talk about world political events and social justice with your kids? These engagements are possible when you are tuned into what your kids are talking about online. You can find out who your kids look up to, who they quote and what they believe when it comes to current events and where they can make an impact on their community. You can see what others are saying about them and discover how they speak to their friends. Want to know what is causing your teen stress in their friendships; check out their social media interactions.
Parents want to be actively engaged on the following platforms:
These 3 apps are the framework that connects kids across social media. These are the top apps teens aged 13-19 are using.
Parents can also leverage apps like Snapchat, and Kik Messenger to chat with their kids.
Parents need to be aware of and consistently checking apps like ask.fm, whisper and vine. These apps are largely used for short bursts of communication. Ask.fm has been in the news consistently for bullying behavior as users can hide behind making anonymous comments. Vine recently began to clean up its user interface prohibiting adult content and actively shutting down accounts that have adult images. Whisper is a fairly new app that is structured on a “confessional” interaction. Users can make anonymous confessions, however, reading many of the posts; parents will quickly realize that there is a very huge grey area for kids when it comes to sexuality and sexual behavior. This app, while incredibly concerning, will give parents an opening to talk about topics such as sexual assault, consent and the power of “no” along with other topics of gender norms, sexuality and relationships.
When we begin to use these powerful social media sites to connect us with our kids, rather than allow them to widen the generation gap, we leverage our influence as parents and can garner more credibility with our kids. Learning to meet them where they are, rather than insisting they come to us, we have the opportunity to draw in their generation and become part of the growing conversation on social media.
She has been quoted The Calgary Herald, AllParenting.com and YummyMummy.com.
She has been a guest on various Blog Radio Shows and participates in numerous community forums on parenting.
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