Our first reaction is always to protect them, standing sentinel against those very nuances we have no control over as possible threats. Doing our do-diligence and being mindful of such changes and influences will help make things run a little smoother in your household.
From Twitter to texting to Facebook and Smartphones, technology plays am important part in our children's friendships, connecting and staying tuned into "what's happenin." It also opens the door to heartache and extreme emotional upsets. Exposure to social networking via whatever technology they use can be beneficial. Like everything else in life, there are always risks attached. Tweens and teens still need to be supervised and must learn that moderation, following certain ethics and being respectful are key elements that should be followed for the simple privilege of social networking whether they are 13 or 17. Here are a few things to share with them.
- Don't Share Too Much ~ Jealousy and insecurity runs rampant in teens and can exacerbate every situation. Documenting everything in great detail can be insensitive to friends who may have been left out. If they know it will hurt someone's feelings, then don't post it. We're also talking a safety issue here. Any profiles posted on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace etc. should not be made public. Make sure they don't post when they're home alone or overly personal information. Stalkers and criminals know how to work the systems. Don't give them an open door into your world.
- Teens are generally insecure about handling issues or conflicts face-to-face. Problems can be magnified online because it's easier to just let loose. This can prove a form of bullying and a life-long record that can't be removed. Words typed can affect future college admissions and employment opportunities. Teach them to talk their differences out in a controlled and mature manner. Conflict is a natural and normal part of friendship. If they know to cope and talk through their differences rather than acting out online, it will make for healthier more mature relationships in the long run.
- Monitor Your Teen ~ Believe it or not, our children can say and act like someone else entirely online. Even though you think you may know your child, make sure you check out what they are posting and downloading to others at least once a week.