I watch my daughter as she scrolls through her Instagram feed. I know exactly what it’s filled with.
Selfies upon selfies of beautiful teenage girls and guys with some of them wearing next to nothing. And the comments... oh my.
I wonder how this affects her? I wonder if parents know their teens are posting these images online?
I wonder if they care?
I listen to my son as he’s playing Battlefield on Xbox live as he’s talking to players on another continent. What happened to the days of two buddies playing side-by-side into the wee hours of the night?
I start thinking about my own online routines.
Saturday mornings come to mind. That’s when I find some “me” time.
Cozy couch, coffee, and Pinterest. I pin pictures of all the things I want in my home, the fabulous dinners I want to make, the clothes I want in my closet, and the fit body I have yearned for since I was 16.
I start thinking more about social media, something I thoroughly enjoy and am a huge advocate for, and its effects on my well-being and my family’s well-being.
Is this online world helping or hindering my family?
I question if we should abandon social media in our household.
But what I know is that social networking is not going away any time soon.
Teens may not be as fascinated with Facebook as they used to be, but Twitter, Instagram, and Vine are still holding their attention.
It would be silly of me not to allow social media in our home.
Consider the technology that is used to communicate in the workplace these days. Webinars. Virtual meetings. FaceTime.
It’s my job to prepare my kids for the future.
It’s also my job to help my teenagers understand the difference between healthy and harmful communication. The difference between needs and wants. About communicating with family and friends, both online and offline.
I know that social networking spaces are not always kind, supportive, and positive. But I’ve never been a believer that if you stay away from social media that it can’t harm you.
I think it’s better to explore it. Learn for yourself. Find out what you like or don’t like.
Even if you don’t love social media, try not shut it out completely.
We know the adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is totally inaccurate. Because of this, talk to your kids about how they are using social media and what their thoughts are on different types of posts. Talk to them about the pictures they post, the comments they make, and the impacts they may have.
The more you learn about social networking, the better resource you can be for your kids and teens. Lean into other parents too. Talk to them about how they use social media in their home and the rules around use.
As long as you’re able, stay engaged with your kids online. Friend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, join them on Instagram.
But just because they’ve friended you on Facebook, doesn’t mean they’re not blocking you from their page. Just because you are following them on Twitter, doesn’t mean they don’t have another account set up, which is the one they use to communicate with their friends.
I’ve been fooled. I’ve learned. I’m okay with it.
I remember that I was once a teenager and went great lengths to hide things from my parents.
I can try to stay on top of everything my kids are doing online, but there also comes a time when I have to put a great deal of trust in the offline conversations I’ve had with them about their online use.
I know the messages are getting through. There’s only been a few times I’ve had to intervene.
If you’re looking for support around social media in your home, a good place to turn is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website for tips on Internet safety and interacting online at http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cycp-cpcj/is-si/index-eng.htm
– Lori Graham is a mom, a Maple Ridge marketing consultant and one of the Social Chicks. Connect with her through www.thesocialchicks.ca or www.Facebook.com/thesocialchicks.
@ Copyright 2013