This summer I stumbled across a past student's social media page. She talked about how peers were bullying her online. A coupe of weeks later, her friends had a made a page to support her and raise her up because of all the hate being spewed at her online. This is heartbreaking as this child is only in middle school. Many students have had this same situation happen, but their solutions are not as pleasant.
Social media is full of 'likes' and 'comments'. Many children feel it is a way of acceptance when they get 'likes' on their pics. If they don't get them, many stalk their own images for activity, may take down the photos, and many become depressed. In this day and age, we must see the way social media affects the lives of children.
How can we do this? I start with the knowledge that I am the adult. This is what needs to be the first thought in our heads. We are the adults, we set the rules, and it is OKAY to say NO! Here are some ways parents can start to control the devices in their children's lives.
1. Set boundaries for your children. I spoke with a few families who told me their go-to rules included, no screen-time without an adult present, devices can only be used up to 6:00pm, and no cell phones in the bedrooms.
2. Ask children to show you how to use something. When you talk to a child like you want to know something they can do, you often will get a very willing participant. "How do you use Instagram?" would be a way to learn about their account, what they do with it, and you can see the content without the child seeing that you are prying into their business. Remember, this is their social life. It's like when our parents would ask who was calling us on our phone at night. We didn't want to answer these questions when we were kids, same as them not wanting to answer questions related to social media.
3. Open a dialogue between yourself and other parents. When you are curious about something, ask another parent. They may be able to give you insight into something your child isn't talking about. Be advocates for each other. If you hear or know something, talk to the parents of the child. We would want someone to do it for us, let's do it for others, too.
Technology is powerful. Adults often feel helpless when it comes to technology because of how quickly it changes. If in doubt, don't allow it until you know more about it. A great site to use to check on the newest technologies is Common Sense Media. Apps are rated and reviewed here. BE INFORMED! Also, if you have any concerns, contact me and I will be more than happy to check out an app for you.
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A teacher turned techie with an obsession with Google, teachers that love learning, and students that love life!