Raising children can be tough. As parents we do our best to instill proper values while at the same time letting them have room to spread their wings. It’s a very tough balance. When you add social media to the mix, that balance gets tougher. Trying to ensure that your child doesn’t post something online that can haunt him in the future can be daunting. Getting him to truly understand that social media has consequences when he feels invincible is like running a marathon without training.
Fortunately for me, social media has not been an issue. Yes, I have two teenage boys but they are not social media crazy.
I’m sure you’re wondering how this happened.
Well, my sons are very different from most teenagers. They prefer staying home versus hanging out. They have a few close friends rather than a big group. They prefer quiet music to loud music, and they hate having their picture on the Internet.
My sons did not get cell phones until it was necessary. Since I’m a single parent and work, they shared one cell phone which my oldest was responsible for. This was so that I could keep in touch with them between the time they got home from school and I arrived home. That was it!!! At the time, they were too young for Facebook, so that wasn’t a concern. As they got older, they still only had the one phone, and it was always my old phone.
Fast forward to today. My 15 year-old got my old phone at the beginning of the year, and I upgraded my 17 year-old. Currently, the only social media between the two of them is Twitter and YouTube. They both have YouTube, but my youngest also has Twitter. He signed up for a Twitter account before he got a phone because you don’t have to have a phone for Twitter. In the beginning, I followed his account, but once he proved to me that he could handle it, I unfollowed him. Because he didn’t have a phone, I didn’t have to worry about him posting pictures. I still don’t worry about him posting pictures because he hates taking pictures. My 17 year-old doesn’t have any social media accounts because he doesn’t see the use for them. He thinks that social media is a waste of time, and guess what…I’m alright with that.
One of positive things that I have seen with my son’s Twitter use is that it provides us with something to talk about. It provides us with a connection and daily conversations about world events. When something is trending, he will come ask me about it, and that sparks a conversation. We have had some deep and funny conversations because of Twitter.
We don’t currently have a REAL social media policy. If and when I start to see behavioral changes, (and believe me, I am on constant watch), I have no problem deactivating Twitter. I have no problem confiscating phones and laptops.
I do hope that one day they will fully embrace the good that social media has to offer and at the same time ignore the bad.