Texting and social media can become a controversial topic for parents and kids, (especially teens), because it is such a personal thing. In a recent Huffington Post article, more tips are offered for parents to guide their child’s use of social media. The tips are the same if you are talking to an officer of the law, a teacher or a psychologist – communication and monitoring are critical.
Indeed, parents have the duty and authority for protective cover of minor children. Yet the crux of the matter remains: how to position yourself as the parent who is trustworthy and relevant in order to cultivate the open communication and appropriate monitoring? How can we be present in our children’s on-line lives in a way that is supportive (backstage) and not oppressive for the adolescent who is naturally seeking independence?
Make yourself useful.
One way is to assert your protective authority as collaboration with your child so they can learn to be in command of their own cyber world.
Engage your child in personalizing their social media “home feeds”
- Every social media app has a home feed. This is the stream of posts, links and ads that come into your child’s “in box” to read and acknowledge.
- Explain to your child the benefit of being “exclusive” in their cyber world when it comes to the input they receive from their news feeds. Garbage in, garbage out.
- Review with your child the current home news feed. Is it essentially positive? Or is there a lot of negativity? Who are the sources of positive input? What can be done about the negative input?
- Is the newsfeed primarily from peers and commercial stuff? Is it the stuff of celebrity news? Consider balancing the newsfeed with input from philosophers and sources that reinforce quality thought leadership. Get your child thinking for herself to meet his own spiritual needs on-line.
The ultimate aim is the help your child learn how to balance emotions (such as needing to be relevant in a peer community) with reason and faith. These kinds of conversations also strengthen your bond with your child as you become a trusted resource for life.
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.