Bringing up girls these days feels like a dangerous proposition. It seems at every turn there are potential dangers. Boys and girls both are at risk to all kinds of things that we old folks rarely worried about as kids. From bullying to predators, the online world has amplified many of the things we faced during childhood. Social media has changed the playing field into something that we parents simply can’t ignore.
A parent that is ignoring social media is one that is headed for heartache. Kids are surrounded by it and there is no avoiding it. Social media can also be a positive force if you play it right.
Here are some tips for bringing up girls in a social media driven world:
Educate yourself first
There is no substitute for knowledge and we as parents have to embrace that. Kids are always going to be learning and this is especially true when it comes to technology. If you think your kids are in the dark with social media you are probably kidding yourself. Kids know all about it. How much do you know?
At a minimum, we as parents need to educate ourselves about what is out there. This goes for cell phones, tablets, laptops and home computers. What apps are out there and what websites are the latest and greatest with the kids is a good place to start. Take some classes or jump in yourself online to discover what kids are doing. The information is there if you are willing to learn it.
Know your child’s online footprints
This one is tricky but can be done. It is very important to know what your child is doing online and with whom they are doing it. Some keys to this is to ask plenty of questions. Another key is to put the computer in a community area like the living room. No bedroom computing allowed. There are software programs that will follow every keystroke if you are particularly worried, but I find that building trust with your kid is a good way to go about it. Set perimeters and enforce them without exception.
Make sure they know you are around
The thought of mom and dad looking in on them is generally enough to keep them away from the bad stuff, but you have to actually do the work. It is very easy to lose track of time and give your kid hours on the internet without you checking in. Looking in on occasion simply shows them that you are paying attention. When they are breaking the rules, make the punishment swift and don’t give in. Respect is key for both sides.
Social media is an information based entity. That is, you are at the mercy of what you do (or don’t) know about it where your kids are concerned. They are always going to know the latest and greatest thing because of the other kids at school. One kid knowing something means the school will likely know it before long. We are only going to be involved if we are constantly “plugged in” and paying attention.
What tips do you have for protecting your kids online? I would love to hear!