Guide to Smart Social Media Use for Youth
Social media is here to stay, and it’s important for the youth of today to be wise about using it. Despite the possible dangers that social media may pose if used improperly, our children will use them regardless. As parents, we should take the right steps to mitigate the risks and maximize the benefits of social media for our teens.
Follow these tips to help your teens be safe around this incredible technology, and to help them take advantage of social media, not the other way around.
1. Talk about online reputation
Just like reputation in the offline world, online reputation is very real. The wrong posts can have real damage to your teens’ reputation, so parents should talk about the importance of Thinking Before Posting. Show them cases of online reputation that have gone wrong, preferably of ordinary people, not celebrities. Better yet – give them ‘homework’ and ask them to find these cases themselves so that they learn by doing.
2. Show them examples of good and bad posts
If your teens feel that giving you access to their account is intrusive to their privacy, there is no need to argue over this. Simply ask them to show you examples of what good and bad posts look like. Good posts should be positive, encouraging, do not incite hate speech, do not contain provocative images or hurtful words. A general rule of thumb is to ask them, “Would you send this to your grandparents?”
3. Follow your teens’ social media account
Follow their most active account, not with the intention to monitor their posts, but rather to take interest in their online world and the content that they love to see. Please don’t be surprised if the people that they follow may come off as rude or offensive. Rather than defending them (which may embarrass them, even if the intent is noble), watch as your teens deal with this situation and provide guidance if needed.
4. Encourage using social media to be helpful, not to be better than others
Teenage social pressure can become amplified in the online world. Likes and comments often become measuring sticks for ‘social success’. This leads teens to post things just for the hearts and applause, even if it doesn’t offer any value, or worse if it compromises your teens’ reputation.
Better use of social media is to post something helpful, positive, entertaining, and something of value. Remember: A post that shows off how awesome a person is will be remembered briefly, but a post that helps or motivates someone will be remembered for life. Humility is one of the values that is highly rewarded at IPEKA Integrated Christian School.