Happy Friday, everyone! It’s time for the next installment of summer guest posts (in case you missed last week’s post, you can catch up here). This week our guest blogger is going to be sharing a topic very near and dear to my heart, social media and our kids! Please welcome Christella, from Crawl The Line, who will be sharing her tips for helping our kiddos navigate the sometimes intimidating waters of the online world and social media.
Hey there, Rural Mommy Friends! Thanks so much to My Rural Mommy for this shiny new soapbox! I’m Christella from Crawl The Line (and The Social Mom) and I’m many things; part blogger, part know-it-all, part referee/mom and part tech/social media geekaroonie.
Today I’m sharing a post in which I talk about the challenges involving parenting in this modern new world we find ourselves in! If you’ve ever wondered how you can unite the worlds of Social Media and Teens, or Blogging and Babies, I’m here for you, friend! Read on!
I see and hear many parents today talking about limiting their kids’ screen time, or not allowing them to use computers or technology at all, because they’re worried about the toll it takes on their kids’ development. My approach, as a parent and as a social media strategist, is slightly different. (Okay, really really different!)
Although I do limit my kids’ screen time to a few hours/day, I don’t think that restricting their access to technology altogether is the best approach. In fact, I think that could have a negative impact on their capacity to learn alongside new technologies later in life.
TODDLERS AND TECHNOLOGY
It’s safe to say that when it comes to kids, “Monkey See Monkey Do” is a realistic approach to parenting. We try hard to limit them seeing our “bad behaviours” because we know they will most certainly mimic them. When it comes to Social Media it’s hard to determine as a parent when is an appropriate time to start phasing your kids into using all of these new gadgets we have at our disposal!
Maybe it’s because of my personal background or that I see where the world is heading in terms of technology and education, but for me teaching my kids how to effectively use a computer, tablet and smartphone is as integral as learning their ABC’s and to brush their teeth regularly. Although when school comes along they will be introduced to these mediums, just like we don’t wait for school to begin their introduction to numbers, letters and words, we shouldn’t wait for school to teach them how to utilize these technologies either.
My eldest son has recently turned three, and already he’s fairly adept at using our iPad and my iPhone. We haven’t spent a lot of time on the computer learning yet, because for one. neither myself nor my partner spend that much time on a desktop at home these days. The majority of our online work is done via our iPad or phones, so it makes sense that our kids would pick up technology in the same way. That being said, it is on my radar that my kids learn how to effectively use a computer and navigate the web. and NOT just how to smash the keyboard and toss the mouse around!
Now, when it comes to teaching your kids how to use social media and the internet in general, of course safety is the MAIN factor. You don’t throw a new Facebook account at them and say, “have at it” and back off, no matter how old they are. You also shouldn’t wait for them to discover it on their own, potentially out of your sight at a friend’s home or at school. Teaching them how to protect themselves online and the positive sides of sharing are an integral art of their technological health. We want to encourage sharing behaviours while teaching them what is NOT appropriate to share.
For instance, posting dramatic non-descript posts may seem like the appropriate thing to do as a hormonal-driven teenage, but it may not reflect positively on them in the long run. Those of us who grew up alongside these social networking sites often had to learn the hard way that there is such a thing as too much information when it comes to social sharing.
I think it’s also incredibly important to monitor, at a distance, our children’s behaviours and interactions online. Use their posts and their friend’s posts as teaching opportunities to best direct them towards appropriate activity vs. inappropriate activity.
As parents we also have to give them freedom to explore, and NOT freak out when they come across something we may not want them to see. I know it is years away yet, but I don’t plan to restrict my children (or teenagers down the road) from viewing sensitive materials, but rather use it as a chance to teach them about things like objectification, class structure and how to avoid following in similar footsteps. I don’t want to shelter them, I want them to know what is out there and how to react to it when it does approach their line of sight because, eventually, it will.
From what I’ve seen on the web so far, there are quite a few kids already creating online blogs. I think this is a great initial dive into social media because it helps encourage creative writing, photography and design. Additionally, it can teach kids how to safely promote themselves online and any good parent would have a close eye on their activities at all times.
One awesome example of an online “kid” blog is a child eco-blogger, Hannah Alper, over at Call Me Hannah. Hannah’s been blogging for a short while and has already taken the blogging world by storm, interviewing celebrities, creating eco-friendly online challenges and finding her own voice in a world where everyone is clamouring for a niche. It helps that her Dad, Eric Alper, has been a successful Twitter Influencer and Blogger for quite some time, while her mom, Candice Alper, runs a web-based business (Name Your Tune) and complimentary blog as well.
USING TECHNOLOGY TOGETHER
The best way for a kid to learn about using social media is by watching their parents interact with it. It’s a great way to develop another level of socialization, while also remaining safely it the comfort of their own home.
I was part of one of the first real generations who lived their lives online, as well as in real life. Although it seems like forever ago from technology’s point of view, the world of the internet has only been around for public consumption for a few years. And although we, as young and now older adults, have learned to navigate it through trial and error, our children will not remember a time when it didn’t exist.
Our minds have been shaped by scroll bars and mouse pointers and keyboards like no generation before us, and now with our broad knowledge we can create and share a new way of integrating social media, technology and the internet as a resource to out children that hopefully will shape their future lives and careers. That is, if we teach them how to use it safely and successfully.
I hope this has helped spark your imagination with how you can share social media with your kids safely and effectively. Until next time!