Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Required: A License to Tweet - Part I

This is an introductory to a multi-part series on Parenting and Social Media. Raising 4 boys is no easy feat. Throw in Tweets, DMs, Revining, Subtweets and hormones and this mom is left scratching her quickly graying hair! We have been there, done that in many cases. Am I an expert? Ha! No. But I am the CEO, Head Hancho of All Things Boys in my house and I just so happen to know a thing or two about social media. 

Social Media has happened, is happening and will continue to happen. Whether Mom and Dad make the choice to allow their child to have access to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. is their call. Decisions need to be made with the knowledge and understanding of the power of social media and kids. Parents need to feel comfortable knowing their son or daughter will abide by their social media “law”. As a parent, one must make the rules clear, offering guidance in the beginning stages and throughout. There is no good that can be gained by allowing social media into a child or teen’s world without an upfront conversation about responsibility and impact. Just as parents are required to ride with their teen as they are learning to drive with their permit, a parent must give equal precaution with social media. You would never hand over the keys to your car without spending time alongside them making sure they abide the law, show responsibility, and display awareness of their surroundings. Even after my oldest son got his official license, I found myself still telling him to “slow down”, just as I still offer my opinion if I happen to see a Tweet that makes me cringe. Well, 'cuz that's what moms do. Now he is an adult and well aware that he is 100% responsible for his actions in life and on Social Media. His biggest concern is no longer Mom and Dad, but his college professors and basketball coach. He doesn’t want any part of those consequences.

As for his 2 teen brothers, they’re still in the Drivers Permit stages of Social Media. I am sitting in the passenger’s seat sometimes grabbing the wheel as it looks like they may wipe out a mailbox or 2. Yet, many times I am biting my tongue and letting them work through a predicament on their own. How else will they learn and respect the impact of their words on social media? Kids need to know their parent’s social media law as well as the repercussions of breaking it, but then also understand when the strong arm of the law (Mom!) is no longer watching, someone else always is. Don’t act all Billy-bad-ass posting a Tweet with the F bomb dropped to impress friends. A Tweet is not just a conversation between 2 friends; it’s a conversation that everyone and their mother (literally, people!) are in on......not to mention dads, girlfriends dads (yikes!), teachers, principals, coaches, and future employers. Social media is an amazing and powerful thing. We all have to treat it as such. To say parenting through this vastly changing evolution of social media is a challenge would be an understatement.....

BUT!

It's doable and not as scary as you may think.

Stay educated on what's out there and keep open communication with your kids so that they understand the "whys". Why is mom being so nosy?  Why does dad need to know who HotGuy69 is? Help them understand your concerns and ask them questions when you have them. Give them leeway when you feel they've earned it. Be as strict or lenient as you need to be but always be educated and aware. It's important to be proactive not reactive. Eventually they will understand the need for you to sit in the passengers seat while they earn their License to Tweet. 

Sharp turn ahead!


Stay Tuned for Part II:
Ask.fm - Friend or Foe?


This is a follow up series to my previous blog post, Wake Up and Smell the Sexting, Parents!