Social media is the new normal for today’s teens. Our kids communicate and interact a lot differently than kids did five, ten, or even twenty years ago when we were teenagers sorting through all the intricacies of adolescence. While this can make us feel a bit out of the loop as parents, being informed about the different platforms and apps our kids use is imperative. The number one way you can protect your kids from the great unknowns found online is by knowing as much as you can about the forums where they are spending their time.
We may have been mortified if our folks found a note we’d passed back and forth in Spanish class, but the cyber notes our kids are passing and posting today become part of their digital footprints. These communications can and will follow them way beyond the walls of Senora Seils’ class. Teenagers need to understand the truly public nature of social media and the online precautions they need to follow when using it.
Building an open line of communication about social interactions that occur in person and online is a parenting must. There are lots of articles and posts from outlets like CNN about acronyms and lingo that every parent of a teenager should know. Being aware that PIR means Parent in Room is a fun tidbit, but committing all these to memory isn’t going to make social media usage a safe activity for our kids. A quick google search can help you decipher any cryptic communications you may come across in your teen’s digital feed. Sometimes it may feel like they’re speaking a foreign language, but an online translation is readily available. Translating their online choices and behaviors is the bigger concern.
Social media profiles are a new milestone in our teen’s development. As with any other new experience, we need to prepare our kids and do all we can to ensure their safety. An open line of communication from the start will make a world of difference when the communication lines expand to the internet. Be knowledgeable and be nosy; your kids’ safety depends on it!
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