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Walking With Kids On Social Media Road


Our children tend to live simultaneously in two parallel worlds. We do know a lot about our real world, but social media does not come with its own set of rules. Here rules and regulations are always in evolving phase and it is really difficult to draw a pattern or regularity in the running trend at social media. Rather, it seems to be a ‘Melting Pot Model’.  Therefore shaping and rehashing of our children in real life seems bit easier compared to keeping track of the psychic domain of child in that virtual world.  

This article will be highly helpful for parents in this context. We will have to remain very careful and sensitive while over-seeing and controlling the integration of social media with our child’s life. Few guidelines and tips are presented below, which will be handy for modern-day parents to keep up with a fast and changing technological world of their children. 

This whole exercise is woven around three-pronged strategy-  change yourself, accompany your child and then remain awakened through-out the journey; of which the parents are really used to and are perfect.

Transform yourself

Become litearate
“Facebook! who uses Facebook anymore?”  kids usually say.
Educate yourself on the sites, terms and language being used by your children and their peers. “Hashtags, vining, tweeting, streaming, selfies” – nouns and verbs used frequently in youth culture.
Educate yourself
 Learn about passwords, privacy settings, Internet access and the cloud. Know about parental controls and software that may apply to your child’s needs.
Not bad, just new
Not all about this virtual world is bad. Children are participating in more activities than ever through social media. They are still communicating, but the mode has shifted. Instead of trying to fight against it, learn it. Join social media sites, text and, if you're feeling confident, share information on the cloud.
It will be there
You like it or not, social media is bound to exist and remain; and so is your child wandering in this forest. So give due respect to it! And this realization will transform all your thinking. We can’t deny its existence, we can’t destroy it; we can only live with it.

Walk together

 Slowly, but surely
Would  you allow your child to drive without any experience or knowledge of the rules of the road? That too ,without hours of supervision and teaching?
Social media should be approached in the same fashion. Children should have many restrictions in the beginning (i.e. parent supervision, frequent monitoring, limited access to sites/devices, minimal time, no access to passwords). As children prove their responsibility, they earn more freedom, access and independence.
 Know your child
 Although age is a good indicator, you know your child best. Not all things are created equal, so all must not be treated equally. There are numerous apps, access levels and privacy settings. Not all settings and apps will be appropriate for your child. Read the information provided by the app store, monitor use and slowly add more access.
Positive side
Although it may feel differently, technology was not created to make a parent's job even harder. Help your child explore the positive aspects of technology and incorporate it into your family life (i.e. family game night, Face Time distant relatives, watch funny videos, etc.).
Darker  side 
Children will make mistakes when using social media. The goal is to help children learn from mistakes, and the best way to learn is to practice, receive feedback and suffer the consequences. The normal reaction would be to remove access completely. However, this limits a child's ability to learn from their mistakes.

 Remain present 

Time management
 We do not want to grant children an all-access pass. Set a “screen time” limit. Children should be participating in other activities besides social media
Intervene early
It is better to start younger and provide minimal access (i.e. one social media site you monitor) than to allow full access to all social media without supervision as an adolescent.
 Be A filter
Although your child will be exposed, you have control over HOW the information will be received. Ask questions about games they enjoy, who they talk to, sites they frequent or YouTube channels they follow. Better yet, sit down with them and visit these sites together.

Introspection

 Be a good model
You are user too . How often are you on your phone or tablet? Do you Facebook at dinnertime? In the middle of a conversation? Your children are watching you; you can model how to use social media appropriately.
 Lastly, trust your parenting. It’s all about correct and relevant communication, supervision, consistency and consequences.
Keep communicating with your children openly about social media.
Keep the watchful eye over their activities on social media.
Do it consistently and on regular basis.
Don’t get much worried on any bad consequences. Just face it as a fact of life!


Amrita Singh

Amrita Singh

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