P.C.Pop with Pablo

Kids Using Social Media – A Guide for Families and Educators

In Children, Education, Facebook, Family, Malavenda, marketing, parenting, social media, Uncategorized on September 18, 2012 at 8:41 pm


Since the launch of Facebook in 2004, I have been studying the impact of individuals’ Social Media choices on their lives. I have seen time and time again individuals who insist on posting inappropriate content online using Facebook and other social networks. These choices cause problems, anxiety and often severe and irreversible consequences.

In 2005, my focus was on educating college students and college administrators. Facebook was such a new and mysterious internet phenomenon, I was kept very busy working with student athletes, coaches, campus officials in the dean’s office, top administrators, campus police, media relations staff as well as religious leaders and student leaders.

In 2010, there was a shocking increase in the number of middle school and elementary school students joining Facebook despite the age restriction. (Facebook requires that members be at least 13 years old to register.) My kids were in elementary school at the time, and I went on a crusade to get the word out to teachers and parents. As I started to give Social Media lectures and workshops I realized how ignorant most parents and teachers were to the potential dangers and pitfalls of social media and networking.

Today, the problem still exists only the technology is getting more and more advanced, parents and getting worn down, teachers are getting desperate, and the kids are getting more persistent and savvier. So, I am taking my crusade to the place where everyone is and wants to be – the internet.


Families & Parents

Many parents in this generation are intimately involved in all aspects of their kids’ lives and want them to have everything – including the latest cellphone, unlimited texting, and a Facebook profile. A majority of the kids who were altering the “birth year” to gain a Facebook profile had their parents’ consent and in many cases had their parents’ help with the registration process. Parents want the latest gadget for their kids but don’t even know it’s bad. And the pressure is on to equip your kids as well as your neighbor’s kids. Yes, peer pressure exists among parents too. Families must become engaged in social media in order to understand and to help their kids to avoid the pitfalls and navigate the dangers.



Teachers

Teachers on the other hand know the potential dangers when kids use Facebook but most teachers simply don’t know enough about technology to assist the kids or the parents. Teachers have a great deal of training and experience in how to deal with bad behavior but no one prepared them for this. Technology has added a new troubling dimension to student behavior issues. Every issue teachers have been dealing with for decades are still prevalent but with a new twist. Teachers know it’s bad – but get stuck there. Teachers must focus not on where the behavior is occurring but rather on the behavior itself. Whether the incident happens on the playground or on Facebook, the approach should be the same and the discipline, if necessary, should be consistent. Educators will then realize that they already know how to handle this online behavior and already have the resources to combat it. Educators should trust their instincts and rely on their training and experience to proactively work on educating kids on the pitfalls and giving parents the tools to do the same. But they must also be prepared to react swiftly, fairly and firmly, when needed.



Kids

The kids are going to take what they can from their parents – who want to give them everything. Kids will do their best to be safe but will eventually make a mistake. Let’s hope the consequences aren’t too damaging. There’s a reason they don’t have middle school dances at night – and they don’t have them at all in elementary school. Tweens do not have the skills to deal with complex relationships. Elementary school kids aren’t even ready for simple relationships let alone complex ones. Children are just not ready – developmentally – for the skills needed to use Facebook and other social media without getting hurt in some way.  Through my experience I know that social networking environments like Facebook are difficult for adult and college-age students; therefore, it will be impossible for teens, tweens and juveniles to avoid trouble. This new technology has far worse consequences though.  The danger is real, the harm is severe and the results can be permanent and irreversible.



Educating Kids

First, parents and teachers must partner together. The solution is not to ban young adults from using the internet but to make choices as a family – as a community.  For instance, like with PG-13 and R-rated movies we must have conversations with our kids about what’s appropriate, what the boundaries will be and why. Once kids are old enough they must be educated, trained and coached. Parents and teachers must expect mistakes and be supportive and understanding while correcting behavior immediately, equitably, and consistently. Social media is not going away. The best gift we may give our kids is the street-smarts to navigate this new medium successfully.



I plan on posting a series of blogs discussing the issues with kids using social media. My goal is to educate families, school personnel and students on some of the pitfalls. For now I will offer a short list of some of the potential issues with using Social Media for young adults and children. Ponder these and stayed tuned for more.



Now – if you choose to and allow your kids to go online – enter at your own risk – Godspeed.



Glossary of Internet Acronyms:

  • ASL = Age, Sex, Location?
  • BRB = Be Right Back
  • G2G = Got To Go
  • MIRL = (Let’s) Meet in Real Life
  • OMG = Oh My God/Gosh
  • POS = Parent Over Shoulder
  • P911 = Parent Alert
  • TMI = Too Much Information

A complete list of Top 50 Internet Acronyms Parents Need to Know


Read more about Social Media on PC Pop with Pablo:


References & Resources for Teachers, Parents, and Families:


NetSmartz Workshop is an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer on- and offline. The program is designed for children ages 5-17, parents and guardians, educators, and law enforcement. With resources such as videos, games, activity cards, and presentations, NetSmartz entertains while it educates.


OnGuardOnline.gov is the federal government’s website to help you be safe, secure and responsible online. The Federal Trade Commission manages OnGuardOnline.gov, in partnership with several other federal agencies. OnGuardOnline.gov is a partner in the Stop Think Connect campaign, led by the Department of Homeland Security, and part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our nation’s children spend more time with media and digital activities than they do with their families or in school, which profoundly impacts their social, emotional, and physical development. As a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization, we provide trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume.


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  1. How incredibly relevant in today’s technological environment. I just read a horrific tale out of Canada about a young girl who took her life after having her reputation tarnished on Facebook by a stranger. She posted a video about her entire ordeal and it just shows how vulnerable our children are and the importance of educating them on the many pitfalls existent on Facebook and other internet sites. We can only hope these chilling stories will somehow change the landscape surrounding this issue. Thanks for bringing to light something so important, yet easily overlooked.

    • Agreed. The potential risks are real…and often permanent. We all need to make sure that our children are prepared for social media through education, boundaries, and supervision. It is a big task…but it isn’t going away. Thanks for your comments.

  2. […] photo to the left depicts many of the main issues with young children using social […]

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