The impact of social media on youth is highly debated in the media. Does social media expose your child to danger, what do you think?
Possibly, but I believe the risks can be reduced, as long as we’re prepared to be curious about how the younger gen consumes digital media, and understand how they are using social platforms so we can make sure they’re doing so safely and age-appropriately.
Impact of social media on youth
At the end of summer term, my school held a disco to celebrate year six students finishing primary school. To capture this momentous occasion, students were allowed to bring in smart phones/mobile devices (normally banned during school hours).
They embraced this freedom with vigorous enthusiasm. My colleagues and I watched in amazement as the serious selfie-obsession (video and photos) unfolded before our eyes. Sadly, some students preferred to play on their devices, engrossed in games (missing the significance of the event) and chatting with friends online, who were at the disco! We also witnessed some students vent frustration and anger at not being able to upload their images. They were missing out on ‘likes’, you see; the more ‘likes’ achieved, the more popular they perceive themselves to be. Not a totally healthy reflection of real life – thanks Kim K and co.!
Did you know?
The most frequent activity amongst children today is engaging in social media? Any site which allows your child to interact socially, such as Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Twitter, Youtube and gaming portals are all classed as social media.
I’ll be honest, I love social media and technology. This digital revolution means we benefit from a fantastic flow of information, learning and open communication. But, ‘with great power, comes great responsibility,’ and this applies to adults (parents, teachers, carers) and children, who of course due to age, are more vulnerable to peer pressure and dangers of digital as they experiment in this space.
It’s no great secret that the digital age has a dark side, and there can be collateral damage associated with it. There are many dangers kids will encounter on their journey through adolescence, including as they navigate social media and its boundaries. Remember, this is NOT about your child being naive, immature, untrustworthy or naughty – kids are kids, and there’s only so much they can be expected to navigate safely on their own.
What are the dangers?
sharing or consumption of inappropriate photos and video
sharing too much information which can lead to anything from your home being burgled, to a young person sharing photos-not-set-for-public-consumption, tagged with your precise physical location!
As a parent (and teacher, for that matter), if you lack a basic understanding of social media, and find it difficult to communicate with digitally-confident children, you are manifesting a disconnect between you and the youngster in your care.
Here are ways to help you navigate this new socialisation and to bridge that technical gap.
Social media and teens – helpful rules
Talk to your child
…about specific issues they may be dealing with, or what other children may be encountering online.
Become curious and better educated
…about the many technologies children and teenagers are using. There are plenty of ways you can learn more – local courses, YouTube tutorials, personal coaches or simply ask questions on areas that are new to you.
Instigate family discussions concerning online topics
… check privacy settings (including location settings on mobile devices), and keep an eye on online profiles for inappropriate posts. On the point of security, if you’re worried, seek advice and assistance from your local mobile phone store, an IT or digital media consultant, or speak to your mobile / broadband provider.
Discuss the importance of your supervising online activities
…through active participation and communication. If the child in your care is out with friends or socialising and playing somewhere in the ‘real world’, I’d expect you would know where they are, who they are with and that they’re being effectively supervised. The same rules apply to online activity. You should be aware of ‘where’ online they are hanging out, and who it is they’re liaising with. Wonder how kids can get into trouble? Press play on the video linked above – you’ll realise why it’s important to take control.
Keep all devices in a public area
…in the home such as places you can monitor as you’re cooking or wandering through a room e.g. lounge, kitchen, dining. I’d also urge you to seriously consider why any child needs to take a mobile device to bed… (actually, we adults shouldn’t either – it’s a dreadful habit – put them away at night!).
Have a strategy in place for if/when your child may be exposed to inappropriate content.
Set aside quality time with your child
…doing things they are interested in, and vary activities across digital and real-life platforms.
All adults lead busy hectic lives, but it’s our responsibility to make time, be informed and implement safety strategies
…for online activity, just as we do for anything our kids are involved with.
Child psychologist, Dr Richard Woolfson believes, “Parents need to maintain an open dialogue and encourage children to share both good and bad online experiences, and make sure they keep up with the latest social media crazes, and work with their children rather than trying to control them.”
The world is a different place to when we were children, and things are vastly changed compared with even as recently as ten years ago. As a parent or carer, it’s critically important to remain aware and prepared for how this type of communication and technology truly impacts and works in kids’ lives and in the home. Develop rules that fit best in your household – just because another family does it one way, if a certain rule or process doesn’t sit right with you, use your discretion. Above all, seek information and educate yourself – it’s not good enough to claim that new technology ‘aint your thing! But who knows, by learning something more, you might end up enjoying this new frontier as much as the kids do.
Does your child talk to you? I mean really talk to you, about important topics like boys, girls, alcohol, drugs and the one that starts with S (sex).
When children reach that delicate period known as puberty, it can be a confusing time for both parent and child. Children begin noticing changes in their body, mood swings and not to mention those raging hormones.
For some parents it’s that overwhelming feeling of frustration and helplessness when you try to offer guidance and your child rejects you and disconnects the lines of communication.
Most adolescents are under a lot of pressure, both academically and socially, while also discovering who they are and where they fit into a society that is forever changing. It is possible to be a part of this journey and maintain a strong relationship with your child.
How to get your teen to talk to you? – communication is key.
“Communication is the key to developing positive relationships” –Kath Bunney (student services professional)
How to get your teen to talk to you
1. Listen – Actively listen. Stop what you’re doing and listen. Show them that their thoughts, ideas and feelings matter and their concerns are being heard.
Listening is the best way to find out what your teen knows or needs. Just listen and then say, ‘Would you like advice?’
2. Don’t lecture – when adults yell, exaggerate, get frustrated, roll their eyes, sigh, it turns teens off and they stopped listening. As a result, the relationship suffers.
3. Take a breath before speaking; smile, look friendly and set a positive tone. Keep the conversation happy and upbeat.
Happy conversations are more likely when you’re both in a cheerful mood. The conversation will decline quickly if either one of you is upset. Never demand they tell you their problems or what is bothering them.
Friendliness gets the point across quicker than sarcasm, scolding or a lecture.
4. Distraction – Before you ask too many questions offer them a snack.
Let’s be honest, how many a good conversation is had over food?
5. If you’re hoping to make a point keep the conversation short, simple and to the point.
Timing can play an important role in how the conversation goes. Choose short sentences over paragraphs.
You’re the parent, you know you have life experience; you don’t need to flaunt it and waffle on.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask open-ended questions to encourage them to open up. Allow for their point of view.
Teens are at a stage of their life where they feel they know more than you do. Okay, they might know more about pop culture and technology but it isn’t the whole story.
7. Understand how your child likes to communicate. Driving in the car, cooking dinner, kicking the footy, waking the dog or in a quiet place with no distractions can be a successful way to get little bits of information from your child.
I can remember many a conversation with my mum on the way to school.
8. Look at yourself. How strongly you feel about certain topics such as teens engaging in sex, and using drugs and alcohol may prevent your child opening up to you.
If your child already knows what you’ll say about this topic why would they bother asking?
9. Be consistent and thank them for opening up to you.
“The importance of listening to your child as they are growing up cannot be underestimated. The listening I am talking about is when you give your child the time and opportunity to share their problems.
It is not necessarily about jumping in to give them the solution; it is about giving them the space to verbalise the myriad of issues that the young person has to grapple with as they move from child, to young person to young adult.
What your son or daughter may be looking for is knowing that they have been heard and understood rather than wanting a ready-made solution to their issues”.
-Paul Campbell (school principal, Australia)
The most important parenting skill is effective communication. Parents need to start early – well ahead of the teen years.
Show your child it’s okay to talk about anything. Don’t wait until your child is in schooland a teenager before you try to work on the relationship.
And of course, if you are struggling with any challenges, consult a local, trusted professional or two for advice – ideal people to talk to include a teacher, principal, child psychologist, school chaplain or counsellor, but do not leave it until things are really bad. Prevention is better than cure.
Do you have a question, concern or comment? Please drop us a line below or on social media to get the conversation going.
Most parents understand the importance of their child’s education. However, trying to convince a child to share your wisdom can be both frustrating and distressing.
Children who are disengaged from school find it difficult to be successful. The challenge we as parents, teachers and guardians need to overcome is how to make a child interested in learning; in other words, how to get your child interested in school.
From my experience as a teacher, the best way to get a child interested in school work is to make learning fun and approach all subjects with a touch of creativity and humour.
Having a parent tell you their child enjoys coming to school always gives me goose bumps and a sense of pride. I wish I’d felt that way about my teachers as a child.
How to get your child interested in school
Tip 1: Speak positively about education
Consistently let your child know how important education is and celebrate their successes whether it be for academic achievement, behaviour or effort.
Children from negative households and with parents who are disinterested or who fail to see the importance of education are contributing to their child’s negative experience towards learning.
Tip 2: Show your child you are interested in their homework
Ask your child how their day was; what did they learn?
All parents should know what their child has for homework and when it is due.
Timetables, spelling words and reading aloud each day are the fundamentals of success, and should not be ignored or taken for granted.
There are wonderful resources available that can make this process a fun learning experience the whole family can enjoy.
Tip 3: Speak to their teacher
Every parent should speak to their child’s teacher at least once a term. This is an excellent opportunity to discover your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Conversations with their teacher can help to determine if there are any issues causing your child to disconnect or disengage from the classroom.
Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Association president, Margaret Black says, “There’s nothing more powerful than a three-way (parent/teacher/child) partnership,” and I agree.
Tip 4: Visit their classroom
It is your responsibility to visit your child’s classroom on a regular basis. Teachers are always looking for volunteers and this is an excellent opportunity to witness your child’s behaviour, social skills and academic interest. Your presence alone will reinforce the importance of education and encourage your child to show more interest in the classroom setting.
Personally, I could count the number of parents I’ve had in my classroom on one hand. I realise parents are busy – everyone is busy – but if a classroom visit throughout the semester is planned, it can be worked into your diary and is achievable (and worthwhile, as far as I’m concerned).
Tip 5: Open up the lines of communication
Talk to your child. Make sure your child knows they are in a supportive, loving home environment and you are interested and respect what they have to say.
It may take many conversations but it’s crucial you actively listen to understand your child’s social wellbeing.
Finally, it is also the role of the teacher to make each child feel that they are in a positive and supportive classroom environment where someone believes in them and encourages them to believe that anything is possible.
If both parents and teachers maintain a united front, then the child is placed in the best possible situation for success and contentedness.
“Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like” –Rita Pierson
Do you have a question, concern or comment? Please drop us a line below to get the conversation going.
This week Australia’s Sunrisediscussed alarming statistics on exactly what teenagers are inadvertently sharing on social media streams, including photos, phone numbers, addresses and school details – information that can lead to any number of crimes against young people and their families. In fact, just recently I’ve noticed several profiles of young acquaintances where Facebook security is wide open for the world to see, age and locations mentioned, and various posts seemingly inappropriate out of a ‘friend’ context. This too can lead to criminal activity against the user, as well as harm with regards to personal reputation which can mean the difference between winning a (dream) job or not.
There’s been yet another call for greater education on digital spaces, as well as a plea for parents to participate and be more aware and responsible when it comes to managing use of computers and time spent in the digital realm.
What action should you take?
For ADULTS: Consider training and brushing up on social media skills. Understand what your kids are using, how they’re using it, whether security is appropriate, and whether or not what your children are putting online is appropriate for a world stage. Just because ‘their friends are doing it’, doesn’t make it right, so go with your gut if unsure. There are plenty of tutors and businesses offering individual or group training and assistance, either in person or via a service like Skype. Whether you love or loathe social media, if you have children, you pretty much have a responsibility to understand it. For more information on the type of training available, take a look HERE.
For STUDENTS: If you are, or know of, a student who is spending a lot of time online – potentially because you/they write, blog, aim to work in PR or media, then perhaps consider a valuable extra-curricular course like Mini Media Bootcamp. A critical element within this particular six week digital/email course is ‘using social media appropriately’ so that it benefits a user’s future (rather than hinders opportunity). It’s six-weeks (at about two to three hours per week) time well-spent for not only an industry ‘heads up’, but to learn how to fully manage the host of digital resources now within easy (sometimes too easy) reach of our fingertips.
Got social media questions, or know a student 16+ interested in working in publishing or media? I’m here to help – simply CONTACT using the form.
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