Why you need to quit ignoring social media as a parent. It's NOT going away
There has been huge controversy over the past few years about social-media giants deleting photos of women's bodies depicted in real life: breastfeeding, menstrual blood, cancer survivors and mastectomy scars. The list goes on and on—social media treats women's natural bodies compared to the sexualized version we are so used to seeing online.
Social media educates our kids 24/7, and the inbound information is relentless. Our kids face a barrage of who they "should" be day in and day out. And parents burying their head in the sand are in for a rude awakening.
As parents, we have to be hyper aware of what our kids are consuming online. This doesn't mean you suddenly become the Internet police. It does, however, mean you need to have the tough conversations and quit shying away from discussions that make you uncomfortable. Our kids are not afraid to seek out information, right or wrong, online.
It's time to get over ourselves and start moving our baby boomer (and Gen X) rear-ends into the social media age. You may not like social media, but that's too d*mn bad because our kids are living and learning in the world of social media.
Here are 5 ways you can connect, communicate and engage with your kids using social media:
1. Check Your Kids' Accounts
Yes, I said accounts. Plural. If you think for one second your kid has only ONE Instagram or Twitter account, you're really not paying attention. When kids get tired of an account, they simply start a new one. If your kid suddenly decreases their posting frequency on an account, I guarantee they've started a new one.
2. Ask TOUGH Questions
Ask your kids point blank why they posted a photo, shared a status, or liked another person's image. If you want to get to the bottom of why they think and act the way they do on social media, ASK.
3. Set Boundaries
If your kid posts something that isn't OK with you, speak up. We have a "no illusion photos" in our house, which means if the illusion is you aren't wearing clothing or you are wearing something titillating, it's an immediate take-down conversation.
I get that kids want to push the boundaries and see exactly where the drawn line is in the sand. That's how they figure out what they believe in versus what their family believes in. Sometimes, they can stand in their own right but until that happens and they are accountable as an adult, you should hold veto power over all posts on your kids' social media citizenship.
4. Ask Your Kids About Controversial Things
I showed my teen the post about the women who had period blood on their clothing and asked her what she thought. Her first response was, "She looks really tired."
She didn't make a huge scene and get all grossed out by a woman with blood on her pants. She immediately went into empathy mode and could feel what the woman in the photograph must have been feeling. Ask your kids for their reaction to hyped stories about social media, and then talk about the things we aren't supposed to talk about.
5. Ask Your Kids For Help
Get your kid to help you set up a social media profile, get engaged online and figure out what your kids are digging into every single day. Nothing irritates a kid more than a parent who has zero clue about what is going on out in the world of social media.
How can you make demands on your kids' behavior when you have no idea what's actually going on for them? Quite simply, you can't. You can assume, you can guess but your kids will see right through it. Ask your kids to help you understand social media—what they like, why and what is so appealing about their platform of choice. Make educated, informed decisions about social media and quit hoping it will go away.
Are you struggling to figure out social media and your teen? I have a tip sheet just for YOU! Go on over and grab the sheet and start connecting, communicating and engaging with your teen using social media! Click HERE to download your tip sheet.