Social media has become the top way students interact and communicate with each other and to the world! It is the easiest place to share exactly the way that they are feeling within seconds. I bet if you were to poll the average youth group, over 60% (probably higher) would say that they use facebook regularly. Twitter is the big thing in our student ministry so many have that. Skype, google+, and even instagram are all avenues that students are connecting with others. It is very difficult for parents to keep up, but regardless of how fast and advanced our students may be with social media, the parent’s responsibility does not change. Here a few tips for parents in dealing with their students’ social media accounts:
- Create your own account– My philosophy for parents is that if your kid has facebook, then you should have facebook. The same goes with instagram, twitter, and anything else. Now, you may be a parent who will never use this. That is fine, but it gives you direct access to check up on how your teenager is doing.
- Have access to your kid’s log in information– Kids hate this, but honestly if they have nothing to hide, they will be fine. It is the kids who want to hide something that usually buck this system. They just hate their privacy to be tampered with. This gives you direct access to incoming and outgoing private messages.
- Friend and follow their friends– Now, you probably think after the first 2 tips that I am saying “stalk your child.” Well sort of. I am not saying that totally, but I am saying get involved in their lives through social networking. One wise thing as parents that you can do is know your kid’s friends and their families. It will give you a good idea of how they will be influenced.
- Use discipline when needed– If your student is using profanity, being disrespectful or connecting with people who you do not approve of as the parents, use discipline! Do not be afraid to insert discipline when your kid’s social media account is in violation of what you think it is appropriate in your home.
- Become educated on youth culture and lingo– Parents of teens are naturally going to be disconnected in many ways of youth culture, because of the generational difference. Parents, get educated in this area. My friend Austin McCann wrote a short post about youth culture and places to get educated. You can read it here. I would also suggest connect with “The Youth Culture Report” as well. They have a website and regularly post articles pertaining to trends in teenagers.
Now, your kid will buck at this, but these are preventative measures to try to protect your kids as well as teach them discipline. Also, this is for their good even if they do not see nor understand it right now.