It's that time. They are about to create their first social media account. Whether it’s Tik Tok or Facebook, Instagram or SnapChat, you’re probably freaking the [expletive] out. You are not crazy. Your fear is totally warranted. But this day, along with their first date, has to come at some point. What can you do to prepare?
Here’s a few helpful tips:
Stay ahead of them. Remember when you ran around the house plugging every electrical outlet with a safety plug and attaching those obnoxious cabinet locks you still can’t remove? Well is this pretty similar. Sign yourself up for an account on whatever platform they are jumping on. Understand how it works. What content you can see? Who can see your content? How do people connect with you? Can strangers approach you?
Talk to each other. Open lines of communication are the best way to keep your kid safe online. With social media, the bullying doesn’t stop when they step off the bus but an open line of communication will ensure you hear about it. They don’t want to hear stories about your youth, they want you to listen to them.
Set Rules and Limits. There’s no better way to force comparison or foster loneliness than the constant scroll of an instagram feed. “Likes” and “followers” are little more than a real-time, popularity game show. Too much time scrolling the feeds will leave you with a sad teen.
Mind the Overshare. Teach them about the “overshare.” For all our sakes, none of cares their bestie’s new jeans. In all seriousness, their digital footprint is like a trail of breadcrumbs left behind. Colleges, employers and those whose intentions may not be good can find those posts, rants, pics and more.
Set the Privacy Together. Spend time learning about the privacy settings and then set up their account with them. Show them the privacy settings you’re putting in place and why you’re doing that. You can set the boundaries to protect them but it’s helpful for them to know the dangers too.
Now, fix yourself a cocktail and remember to breathe.