Yes, it’s true. I. Am. A. Parent. I’m also a strong advocate for the use of Social Media with our children.
With two kids of my own, a mid-teenager son and a 20-something daughter, I’ve been through the social media gamut on all levels looking at selfies, duck-lip faces, food shots, clothing, the glorious and well-staged magazine-like vacations of friends, family and their friends, selfies and more selfies. But when all I see is someone’s persistent sense of self-importance and non-stop narcissistic content, I unfollow. Period.
Which brings me to this; if your child is under the age of 17 and is engaged with social media apps, as a parent it behooves you to “friend” and “follow” them, online. Why? Because if they ever have an issue or come into crisis as the result of a social media interaction, you need to be at least functionally literate with the app to jump in where needed and help them through the issue.
Which brings me here; in a recent presentation a parent disagreed with this perspective on the grounds that they have no interest in social media and “don’t really care what their kids do on there anyway” – and that they’ve got better things to do than sift through ridiculous adolescent posts and be sucked into that world all day long. To this I empathized completely… with the busyness of our lives. To clarify to this parent, however, we don’t have to jump into our kids’ social media sandbox to comment and LOL on everything that they post, which they prefer you don’t, but we do have to be in the virtual room, at arm’s length. To not take a concerted, sincere and involved interest in your child’s social media habits, friends, followers, and content is akin to tossing your brand-new, enthusiastic, car-driving 16 year-old the keys and wishing them luck on the freeway as you have no interest in watching them swerve and deek all over the road – because you’ve got better things to do.
Follow your kids, online. Take an active and knowledgeable interest in the aspect of their life that most consumes their day – Social Media. But do it with respect, genuine support and love to their journey of discovery. Be in “the room” but not in their face. And guaranteed, as proven with my relationship both online and offline with the two pictured above – my raison d’être – it will turn out exceedingly well and rich in the mutual sharing, trust and bonding that will blossom.