Why You Need to be Vigilant About Your Kids’ Social Media

Jan 8 2020

by Mandy Wooley Edwards

According an article from the New York Times titled The Secret Social Media Lives of Teenagers, “Even though 86 percent of teens say they’ve received general advice around online use from their parents, researchers at Common Sense Media found that 30 percent of teens who are online believe their parents know ‘a little’ or ‘nothing’ about what social media apps and sites they use. And yet, teens still say that their parents have the biggest influence on determining what is appropriate and inappropriate online.”

If parents would take the time to educate themselves on social media and the potential danger it can bring, most of what’s going on with children and teens on social media wouldn’t be happening. Parents are not being vigilant enough. These are our precious children and we should protect – and educate – them as long as we can.

The Southern Coterie blog: "Why You Need to be Vigilant About Your Kids' Social Media" by Mandy Edwards (photo: Grey Owl Social for the 2018 TSC Summit)
Photo Grey Owl Social at the 2018 TSC Summit

Being vigilant may look like we are being nosy or being a helicopter parent, but if we are not monitoring their social actions, no one is. Here are five reasons you need to vigilant:

You are protecting them from strangers and others who are out there to prey on our sons and daughters.

Even with all the internet-nanny programs and account restrictions, that still wouldn’t stop a predator from seeking out your child. If you want to know if this really happens, I can let you talk to my husband. He’s prosecuted many cases over the years where the under-age victim was lured via social media. Just because that Instagram account says they are a 15 year-old from a high school in the next town over, it doesn’t mean they really are.

You are protecting them from cyber-bullying.

Being a teenager is hard enough without the technology, they don’t need the burden of the online bullying to hurt their still-building self-esteem. Our kids need to find their self-esteem and validation from their parents, their church, and healthy friendships. Not social media.

They post content without thinking.

Some of this content may hurt them (or haunt them) on down the road and/or hurt a friend’s feelings. Children and teens (and even some 20-somethings) are not mature enough to understand the long-term ramifications of posting hurtful content and inappropriate pictures.

Social media can wait – it’s not going away anytime soon.

Kids are only kids for so long. Let them be that. Let 9 year-olds ride around on bikes. Let 12 year-old boys play baseball or football. Encourage your kids to be active and social – without an electronic device. Remember back to when you were their age.

Not using social media to communicate at this age allows them to be taught the proper way to carry a conversation with others.

I know teens (and college kids) who could use a lesson in that. With a generation that is texting the person next to them instead of talking or Snapchatting pictures instead of enjoying an event, the lesson of how to hold a proper conversation is being lost. Not to mention their writing. I cannot count the number of times I have told my daughter that “k” or “ok” (that’s “okay” and “I know”) is never an acceptable way to respond to a text message from me or anyone else.

A study from Common Sense Media found teenagers (ages 13-18) use an average of nine hours of entertainment media per day and that tweens (ages 8-12) use an average of six hours a day, not including time spent using media for school or homework.

The world is a scarier place now than when we were all kids in the 70’s, 80’s, or even the early 90’s. The amount of information and the immediacy of communication at their fingertips is outright frightening.

But if we as parents are vigilant about our children and their technology – checking their text messages, checking their social accounts (that means logging in, not looking at what’s public), we can help our children navigate this and make it a more positive experience.

What are your thoughts/experience with this?

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Mandy Wooley Edwards View More Blog Posts from this Author

Midwest Transplant. Wife. Mom to 2 redheaded daughters. Owner of ME Marketing Services, a social media marketing company. Proud University of Georgia alum and Bulldog football season ticket holder. Honored as one of UGA's 40 Under 40 Alumni for 2016. British Royal History Fanatic. Love all things Southern.

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