(This is a reprint from my Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com).
This morning, Mary Konow, owner of MK Career Designs in Roseville, delivered a presentation to parents who wanted to know more about the social media landscape their tweens and teens are navigating, and offered some insights about helping youth think correctly in their cyber social realm. The social media workshop was hosted as a public service by St. Joseph Marello Catholic Church.
A mother of three ages 12 and under, Konow encourages parents to consider that the ability to navigate social media in a secure and wise manner has fast become an essential social skill for the modern family. “In my career planning field, I have learned how important it is for parents to teach their kids to think clearly about what they are sharing and with whom,” she said. “I have witnessed examples of college scholarships and job interview opportunities lost because of what the admissions staff and hiring manager found on the candidates social media platforms.”
Konow presented some of the popular apps that attract youth, including Instagram, Kik, SnapChat, Twitter and Tumblr. “Facebook is where parents hang out,” she said “So the kids have moved on to other platforms.” Below are some tips Konow offers parents to be better informed and offer proactive guidance for youth.
- To keep tabs on the apps your tween or teen is using, search your child’s mobile phone for active apps, by going onto the app store on their device and then scroll down. “You will see what’s trending, or most popular, and then you can also see which ones have been activated on your child’s device.”
- When your child expresses an interest in joining a social network, do the research with them so they can learn to be discerning. The first question to ask is “Are there age restrictions?” And then have a conversation about why age-restrictions exist and set expectations accordingly. (For more about setting age-appropriate boundaries for use of mobile devices and apps, go to: Cyber Rites of Passage).
- Be clear with your children that it is not acceptable to post about your family business, including pictures while on vacation. Issues, concerns or conflicts that could expose and or humiliate individuals of your family must be kept out of the news feeds. In this regard, parents need to be mindful about withholding the urge to vent their frustrations in their on line “friend communities” as this is information that can return to haunt you and your child and harm your relationship.
- When you log into your device or computer, be mindful that young children are watching and learning. If you do not log out, and walk away from the device your very young child may access the device. Make sure you have locked the device before leaving it unattended.
- Get your kids talking about commercial influences when ads come up in all media, including the browsers or social media news feeds. Ask your child, “What do you think they are trying to sell you?” Explain to your child that free apps always have an upsell, and that you never get something for nothing. You are always giving up something. One of the parents in the workshop pointed out, for example, that Facebook claims rights to use the photos people post.
- Periodically “Google” your name and your child’s name. This way you can see what future college admissions or a future hiring manager might find. According to Konow, college admissions are using LinkedIn, a professional social media platform, to access information about candidates and so the age restriction to be on that site has been lowered to 13.
- And finally, coach your child to ask themselves three questions before they decide to join a network or post something: What information are you giving away? Who are your giving it too? Is that a good idea?
ABOUT: Banana Moments Foundation is a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. The BMF mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all BMF proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your Donations are greatly appreciated.
As the Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner, my personal mission is to educate and inspire parents from all walks of life and social settings to realize their inherent authority to govern the home and educate the child about their own power; the personal power that comes from the spiritual resilience of your chosen faith. And so I write for Examiner.com to express the passion of my mother heart to a diverse audience.
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.