Social media is no place for kids – Education Expert
Social media is no place for kids – Education Expert
What would you do if you found your thirteen-year-old lying lifeless in a remote area?
On January 30, 2016, thirteen-year-old Nicole Lovell was found dead by the side of the road 100 miles from her Blacksburg, VA, three days after she disappeared in the middle of the night. In the months leading up to her death, the teen had been chatting with men on social media, and it has been reported that that is where she may have met the man charged with murdering her, 18-year-old Virginia Tech freshman David Eisenhauer (Huffington Post).
Stories like these and more make you question how safe your kids can be on social media in this tech-crazy era. So, we decided to seek some expert advice on how to ensure your child’s safety on social media. Our resource person, Mrs. Abena Takyi-Kwakwa, who is a seasoned education consultant at EduHive, a licensed educational consult here in East Legon gave us her thoughts on the topic, which we found pretty interesting. Her thoughts? According to her, till your kids are sixteen years and older, they have no business on social media!
Abby says that your kids, though tech savvy are not mature enough to handle the pressures of these platforms. Morally, psychologically, they are not ripe. To her, as a parent, you have enough to deal with already with growing kids – peer pressure, crave for independence and the whole emotional roller coasters to mention a few. How much more adding the craze of social media? Nope! That’s too much to handle.
She suggests some points to consider before introducing your kids to social media, which this article highlights:
Be there for your kids…they need you
A mother of two and an experienced educator, Abby reveals that the main reasons your child or teen will go chasing after social media is to satisfy their curiosity and seek attention. We find kids dressing to look sexy to attract enough likes or doing crazy videos just to get enough views or get a lot of friend requests. This situation is what Abby describes as ‘Social media popularity contest.’ In this age, let’s admit that it can get pretty tough spending enough time with your kids. So, how do you give them the attention when you are hardly around?
Abby admits that though she used to beat herself up about not being an always ‘available parent’, some good advice she got helped calm her nerves. The advice? ‘You don’t actually need 24 hours to spend time with your kids. Just make the best out of the little you have…this tip was given to me by my mentor, and since then I have been more relaxed,’ she said. For example, take advantage of dinner times and the little space before bedtime to catch up about their day.
It is not about quantity, but about quality time, though this may vary in different situations. ‘I remember one time, I came back home very tired and kissed my daughter goodnight without asking how her day went. She called me back and brought my attention to the fact that I did not ask about her day as I usually do. I was surprised that the few minutes I actually spent with her every night really matters to her.’
When it comes to being open about grey areas (like sex), most parents shy away from initiating discussions or answering their children’s questions. What you actually don’t know is that, if you don’t give them answers to these questions, or break it down for them, they will seek it elsewhere, which may not be too pleasant. For example, you can explain to your daughter why she is developing breasts or having hairs in her pubic areas. Remember to make it as interactive as possible, as a friend.
Be firm: Am I not being overprotective? My child will be missing out…all her friends are on social media
Yes, although it may seem that your daughter’s whole class is on social media, it does not mean you should give them access to it, says Abby. No, you are not being a killjoy. You are being a firm parent and that’s that.
As mentioned earlier, your kids are not yet emotionally and psychologically prepared to be handling something as dangerous as social media accounts. Let them grow up and let the training you have instilled in them enable them to utilize social media well at the right time. You are the parent, therefore are the best judge of your child. ‘I know my daughter very well. I know what she can and cannot handle. I know the environment she can and cannot thrive in, and social media is not one of them’ says Abby.
What if they see it on their friends’ phone?
Usually, they only get to peep through or get a glance at what their friends do on these social media platforms. However, when you are in constant communication with your child, he would definitely raise it that he saw this or that on their friend’s social media account. Abby quizzes that, ‘if even as parents, we struggle with social media addiction, how much more our kids? If you can’t handle it, what makes you think they can?’ You need to be as firm as you can be.
When do you distinguish between Social Media and the internet?
Supervise general internet usage
Though the internet, in general, is a good resource for research, games, and projects, it can get your kids pre-occupied no matter the age. It is, therefore, necessary to keep a watchful eye of your child’s activity on the web. What Abby does is that she puts locks on her nine-year-old daughter’s tab and makes sure usage time is always within her supervision. ‘I time my daughter’s usage of the tab even for her research… even on weekends, it is still timed and if we are not at home, she just would not have access to it and that’s that. The last time she flouted the rules, we had to seize it for a year.’