It’s unfair to deprive our children of social media.
If you think it’s not? Fine. But if you think they won’t find a way to get it? You’re delusional.
Robin Bailey, co-host of Mamamia‘s The Well podcast, says “It is their world. It is how they communicate. It is what they do. It’s not up to us to deny them of that, it’s up to us to get on board.”
And she has a point. Social media and the world of online isn’t about video-calling friends and spending time on trivial games.
It’s how we learn about job interviews; it’s how we get our news and it’s how we from our opinions; it’s how we stay in touch with friends and family and learn of marriages and births and deaths.
Online is everything. A parent banning their teen or tween from being online is like holding a swimmer by the ankles when they try jumping off the starting block.
Listen to Bec Sparrow and Robin Bailey discuss kids and social media. Post continues after audio.
Robin Bailey’s co-host, author, and mother-of-three Bec Sparrow goes into high schools around the country giving talks to parents and tweens and teens about social media. About responsible usage and about navigating the online world.
It’s called ‘Before You Hit Send’.
“My big thing is, I’m not going to tell people not to be online,” says Bec. “What we want is for our kids to have a positive experience online.”
"Social media and smartphones are causing a whole stack of problems, and we have a whole generation of parents and teenagers who are overwhelmed."
"I'm a big believer in laying foundations... if you lay these foundations, you're going to have a much better experience, whether it's online, or just generally, as a teenager."
"These are the two questions I want them to ask themselves..."
Question 1: Have I found my tribe?
"They key to having a successful high school experience is who you choose to hang around, and that's something you can control," says Bec.
"Your tribe are those people who get you; who want what is best for you, who call for your best, who you know when you leave the room that they're not talking about you; you know that when you're with them they don't humiliate you or put you down; these are people who love you for who you are."
She goes on, "You want to go and have 638 friends online? It's meaningless. The happiness comes from the people that you can sit down and pour your heart out to... I want you to nurture your in-person, quality friendships. Those are the people you need."
"You're experience online is going to be driven -positive or negative - based on your [real life] friendship group - particularly with teenage girls."
Question 2: What do I stand for?
"Your values are called into question every time you are online - especially on social media."
"You've got to ask yourself: do I believe in racism? Do I believe in sexism? What am I going to do if I see someone being belittled or mocked - how am I going to respond? What am I going to do if I'm tagged in something offensive?"
"You need to work out what you stand for and what your values are."
The way we act online speaks volumes about who we are as people, and about what we stand for.
Not only that, but our every online move is documented and stored in history to be researched by future employers and wives and girlfriends.
"Some kids are going to get this easier than others," says Bec. "We've got a generation of teenagers who have literally been allowed to run amok... I get it parents, keep trying."
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