Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Parents: What is YOUR Social Media APPtitude?

I started Social Media APPtitude in the Fall of 2017 to educate parents on all things social media. It's an ever evolving subject as new apps are released daily and new apps suddenly become cool with our kids and teens. Who can keep up? I made it my job to do so and it is sometimes difficult. However, I've dedicated my life to do this for my fellow Moms, Dads, Stepparents, Grandparents, Godparents, etc. so I am all in.

Social Media APPtitude's material and message is part research, part lessons learned (what to do and what NOT to do after raising 4 boys). I would never tell a parent not to allow their kid to have social media, because it is not going away. What I do advise is to get educated first before doing so. Know what will be acceptable in your household, not just app-wise, but daily screen time, permissible followers and, even more importantly, permissible people for them to follow. Just because she's a Kardashian and on TV doesn't make her automatically acceptable for your 13 year old daughter to follow. (Simply search "Kim Kardashian West" on Instagram and see for yourself). I use her as an example because she was #5 on Top 10 Most Followed Instagram Accounts in 2017. If 106 million people follow her, it should be OK for my kid, right?

Make that judgment for yourself. You know your moral compass. Help collaborate your kid's on social media.
  • Set your own standards and rules for your household. 
  • Make them clear.
  • Have consequences when rules are broken.
  • Follow through.
  • Have conversations with your kids about the avenue in which people use social media. 
    • For every one "pretty selfie", it took a dozen "ugly tries".
    • Most people only want you to see the good/the pretty/the popular/the socially acceptable. We are all human beings with imperfections and fears. Be true to who you are online by embracing who you are in real life.
    • Never EVER let social media likes, retweets, shares, comments, Snapchat views, heart emojis, etc. define your self worth. (and if it starts to, it may be time to take a break)
    • Do not post/Tweet/Snap hurtful content about another person or on another person's page. Seems like a no brainer, but you have to cover all bases, even ones you think go without saying. 
    • Treat all words/photos/videos as if they are never truly deleted. There are always ways to recover content. 
    • If you question sending a text or photo, ask yourself "would I be embarrassed if their mom/dad saw this". If the answer is Yes, don't click send.

And a little advice from one parent to another:
  • Choose how interactive you want/need to be. If you feel you need to monitor their every move, then your child might not be ready. Find your balance.
  • Consider steering clear of the parental spy apps that record every text exchange. (Unless you feel like your child is in danger or putting someone else in danger) You will find yourself nit-picking the fact they wrote a curse word in a text to their friend instead of looking at the bigger picture of why you're trying to protect them to begin with. Give them some privacy, but with the previous mentioned guidance, rules and follow up. 
  • Treat social media access privileges similarly to your child getting their drivers license. Just because they passed Drivers Ed with flying colors doesn't mean you won't correct them as often as necessary when you're in the passenger seat. It's OK to tell them to slow down even after they have been driving for some time. Calibrate as long as you deem necessary. You're a parent and every important decision you make for them is with their best interest at heart. Don't treat social media any less. It is for their safety and emotional wellbeing.
  • Explain the importance of setting a positive digital footprint.
  • Make the decision to allow them to have a smart phone and social media access based on their maturity not their age. 
  • Make the decision to allow them to have a smart phone and social media access based on your emotional fortitude to set the boundaries, monitor as often and long as needed and continued education on what new apps kids are using.

There is a lot to take into consideration when making the decision to let your child have access to such an enormous digital world. As parents, we are all so busy, it is sometimes too easy to fall in the trap of "well, everyone else's kid has a smartphone and Snapchat. I suppose it's time." The good news is, YOU get to determine when it's time. And it doesn't have to be so overwhelming with resources at your fingertips such as Social Media APPtitude.
For more information on specific apps, guidance on how to do a quick phone sweep, set parental controls for apps including YouTube (an unsuspecting culprit), a list of apps to beware of including anonymous & vault apps, and hands on tutorials of apps such as Snapchat, contact Social Media APPtitude.

One of the greatest investments you can make as a parent today is investing your time in preparing and guiding them through this social media age. 

Follow Social Media APPtitude:
Twitter, Instagram and Facebook: @smapptitude

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