Social media is this new concept that has revolutionized life. For teens, all they really know is a life with Facebook, Twitter, and other online communities. Parents on the other hand may still be trying to figure out the point of social media and have no clue the perils of what could be happening with their students.
There are a number of things that I have seen parents do: some worked and others didn’t. Here are different strategies for parents and the positives and negatives.
No Facebook At All.
This idea assumes that parents will not allow their children to ever get on Facebook. At the very least, they will not be allowed on until high school.
The worries of Facebook are completely gone. This includes more time with your children, avoidance of teen dramas created by social media, and a better focus on a non-virtual world. The hope is that instead of wasting time on social media as well as removing the conversation in life of online conversations, students may grow more healthy.
Unfortunately, students go behind parents backs. Right now, if you do not have Facebook, you are assumed to be a social outcast and that is not easy to deal with at that age. Even if students comply with the rules, as a parent, are you really equipping your children to be the best they can be after they leave the house? If they do not know how addictive social media is or what problems could come from it, you might be setting your future college students up for failure. Simply avoiding the issue and leaving them uneducated is not the solution.
Friend Your Children
This does not stop there, but stalk them online, and then constantly comment on their Facebook page.
Not only can you see what is going on with your child’s Facebook page’s wall and photos, you have a voice in their online world too. Instead of being an absent parent, you show that you are present and care. This will cause your children to second guess if they should really be saying something on their wall or posting that picture.
Your relationship online should be just the same as it is in real life. Do you show up at lunch and monitor what is going on, making sure to comment on what they do? No. In fact, unlike the real world, your child can actually hide things from you with the privacy controls. So while you think you know what is going on, you really have no idea. Finally, the messages are private and typically where problems come up.
Demanding Their Password
Regardless if they are already on Facebook or just signing up, you must always have their password so that you can check their account regularly.
You have access to everything that they are doing online and can monitor everything. If they are giving out their phone number in messages and they should not be, you can confront them about it. Or if they post pictures that are inappropriate, you can remove them and then talk about it later. You have control.
You can quickly become a helicopter parent that not only shows you do not trust your children, but that you expect them to do something wrong. This can have a significant impact on your children that may have adverse effects in the long run.
A Solution – Sign a contract with Them
Sit down and take time to discuss what you are thinking, then give them a change to respond. When you come to a good solution that you feel protects them and they feel they have enough trust from you, write up a contract and both of you sign it. This can include that you have their password at all times but only check when there is an appropriate reason to do so. Or maybe you specify a limit of how much time they can spend on it. In fact, all details of what is inappropriate needs to be outlined as well as what punishments will come if they do not hold up their end of the bargin.
This is a Biblical model that God has with His people in the covenant. Sure, it may take time to actually setup, but the reasons for the decisions are laid out and they know what to expect.
Below is an infographic on what parents are doing to monitor their kids on Facebook.
[Image via Mashable]
What do you suggest to parents to monitor Facebook?
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