Some of us parents can remember when cell phones did not exist. There was once a time, not long ago, that it was cool to have a pager. Your friends were limited to your neighborhood. Times have changed. Nowadays teenagers have access to the entire planet ... in their pocket. There are a myriad of social media sites children can access, putting them in touch with random people with similar interests from all over the world. Make sure that you are involved in the digital life of your children. Your presence in their digital world has become just as important as your presence in their physical world.
Follow, like, friend or subscribe to your digital child
For some reason, individuals can forget who they are behind a keyboard. The next time you follow, like, friend, subscribe to or whatever the next trend may be, ensure that your child is on that list. Often times, children forget that they have parents in the digital world because their parents are usually absent.
I am a firm believer in freedom and am not suggesting that you attach a digital leash to your child. As you show your face in one social media platform, if desired, they can quickly move to another that you are unfamiliar with. My only suggestion is to be there for your children. You would never neglect your child in the physical world so why would you neglect him in his digital world?
A secret life
Would you like to know what your child is tweeting, snap chatting or sending out with Vine? What you see might surprise you. I was shocked when I first looked up a few teenagers that I am familiar with. I thought one thing about their lives and realized that they had entire different personalities online — personalities that I would not normally choose to associate with in the physical world. There were things they choose to reveal to an online world which they would never say or do in the physical world.
Remind your child that you are present and the things she puts online can be easily accessed, even if she tries to “block” you. What a teen puts online is permanent and can be a means of embarrassment to her in her adult years.
Keep up to date on the latest trends in social media
Social media sites will come and go. What is cool and popular today can be easily forgotten tomorrow. Do a Google search on social media trends every now and then. Talk to your kids and ask them what social media sites are cool. Check the browser history and see which sites are most frequented by members of your family. Knowing what websites your children are going to is like knowing the friends that they spend the most time with.
The endless amount of possibilities that exist for your child to permanently embarrass himself can be extremely overwhelming. You can only do so much. Joseph Smith, an American religious leader, was once asked by a legislative member how he was able to govern a large religious organization with such order, he responded “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”
We cannot be the watchdog all the time. Eventually our children will have to spread their wings and leave the nest. They will make their own decisions. Our job is to teach them the lessons that we have learned, hope they take our advice and have a safe productive life after their first flight.