Why Parents Must be Social Media Savvy

Recently, my husband and I taught a course at our church on parenting and family life.  While updating statistics for one of the sessions, I was struck by the now-absolute imperative for parents: the need to be savvy about social media.

That word, by the way, means shrewd or discerning.                                                              socialmedclock

Consider:

  • There are more than half a billion internet-enabled devices in American homes.
  • Overlapping use of those devices adds up to an average of 43 hours per day per household.
  • A report in the Washington Post in March of this year states that today’s teenager spends about 7 ½ hours a day consuming media.
  • Among 8-18 year olds, 71% have a television in their rooms.  Only 53% of those households have any established rules for viewing.
  • How many know how to hide what they do online from their parents? 67%
  • How many have given out personal info to someone they don’t know?  55%

And research in 2005 showed one in three 10-17-year-olds surveyed had been exposed to unwanted pornography, much of which included images of people engaged in sex acts or acting out in sexually deviant or violent ways.

 What to do?

  • Understand technology and its shortcoming. Know what social media sites your child’s cell phone plan allows him or her to access.
  • Be sure you have their passwords/access to their online pages or communications.
  • You should be able to limit or disable certain features for added peace of mind. Content blocking software is great, but not foolproof – and certainly no substitute for parental vigilance.
  • Spot check frequently.
  • Set clear guidelines. You might even make a contract with your kids regarding their cell or internet use. Help them see the need to be accountable.
  • Make the rules fit the child. A younger child or less mature teen may require more regulation online than his siblings or friends. Whether or not it seems “fair,” your specialized rules may protect children from stumbling upon situations they are ill-equipped to handle.

These safeguards will be far more effective when you have good communication with your child.  Parents who are intentional about strong relationships with their kids will find navigating the tricky terrain of social media less troubling.

We only get to raise them once. Helping them be smart and responsible users of social media is now, like it or not, part of responsible parenting.

Advertisements

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Erin on October 17, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Great points here, Debra. I agree, we must be techno savvy…. It’s off to school I go:)

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: