Social Media | For Parents

What if you had opportunity to re-do something from the past, change or improve one moment in time? What would it be? We all have something. I can instantly name more than a handful. How about you?

Try to think of one in particular, — maybe an embarrassing event, or a phase you went through…or just a dumb choice that led to a heap more. How old were you when it happened? My guess is you were in your late teens or early 20’s.

Now imagine if it had been documented, – photos, video, and all. Imagine if your most regretful act was now available for replay, indefinitely. — I’d rather not. But maybe yours was.

Today, moments in time are captured without hesitation, and instantly made permanent. It’s scary, for all of us, and especially when it comes to kids and teenagers. Science tells us that their brains are still developing the ability to measure consequences. Yet, they are sharing photos and words, often in moments of impulse, in forms that remain accessible long-term. What will they think in 10 years, if these things reappear?

Modern pre-teens and young adults are naturally as immature and prone to poor judgement as we were. It’s why age is the determination for freedoms within our society. Psychological and emotional readiness take time, and rushing the process can lead to permanent damage, both emotionally and physically.

Exposure to mature and complicated media is not something to take lightly.

Suppose your 13-year-old daughter comes to you and says, “I’ve got this. I’ve been watching you drive for years.” Do you hand her the keys? What if your 15-year-old says he’s going with some friends to the drive-in, one next to a strip club, …do you let him go along? You guys, when we leave our kids on their own with internet freedom, the door is open to situations like these.

It’s tricky online because boundaries aren’t always enforced, followed, or even determined. When it comes to social media, we share a platform where every user follows different rules, or none at all.And as parents, we can’t pretend to know about everything out there.

Accessibility is constantly changing. From private messages to texting, Instagram and Snapchat, Facebook, Youtube, Minecraft, etc. we have to be on guard. The conversation requires heart-centered, truthful conversation, a will for strong character.

Here are some thoughts, as we consider the impact and depth of media freedom for our kids.

Boundaries / Expectations with Connection

  • What kind of purpose does your son/daughter have with the media they choose, and what are the exact boundaries to keep this focus? Do you agree with their thoughts?

  • If this is how they are connecting with friends, how will they respond to invitation from acquaintances or people they don’t know?

  • Is social media taking priority over in-person connection? How are you helping managing the time and establish limits?

  • What kind of acceptance are they expecting with social media?

  • Is your son/daughter relying on the approval of others for self-worth? Is a calculation of likes, comments, and followers a predominant concern for them?

  • Do you want your child to connect with others using social media?

Behavior

  • Does your son/daughter understand what is acceptable behavior? — Can they recognize when something is rude, mean, indecent, embarrassing, or overly critical?

  • Would your son/daughter have the wits not to post or respond to something that is rude, mean, indecent, embarrassing, or overly critical? How would they respond when friends do?

  • Is your son/daughter hanging around people who would post inappropriately?

  • Do your son/daughter’s friends understand what is acceptable behavior? Would they try to post anything to embarrass or hurt your child? (When our kids spend time with other kids who have social media, their actions are most likely documented.)

  • Do you trust your son/daughter’s behavior with social media?

Images / Permanence

  • Social media opens the door for your child to view pornography, violence, and other graphic images. How can they avoid this? Do the apps and websites they use have filtering? — Does it work?

  • Would your son/daughter search for pornography, violence, and other graphic images if they could?

  • What kinds of photos and videos is your son/daughter posting? Do they understand the permanence with it?

  • Would your son/daughter be ok if you saw every thing they were posting?

  • Do you trust your son/daughter’s judgement with posting?

Cyberbullying

  • Does your son/daughter know what cyberbullying is?

  • Has your son/daughter ever experienced this? — Are you sure?

  • Would your son/daughter bully someone online?

  • How would your son/daughter respond if someone bullied them online?

  • How would your son/daughter respond if someone bullied someone else online?

  • Do you feel comfortable with how your child would respond to cyberbullying?

Feelings / Self-Esteem / Self-Actualization

  • Does your son/daughter have a healthy self-image? Do you talk with them about it?

  • Does your son/daughter have other kind of engagement with people aside from social media?

  • Is your son/daughter feeling pressured to use social media because it is popular, or do they really enjoy it?

  • Do you feel that social media is a resource that builds your child up? Is it supporting their fullest potential?

Here are some extra links that I found helpful for all of this.

Together We Thrive!

~ Ayme

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201703/why-social-media-is-not-smart-middle-school-kids

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/social-media-smarts.html#

http://www.parenting.com/gallery/social-media-monitoring-kids

http://www.bewebsmart.com/parental-control-links/

https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-and-Social-Networking-100.aspx

Technology | DIY Freedom

 

Pros and cons with internet connection leave me unsettled. How about you? It’s not “if” we need discretion, but how and why, and when. “Hoping for the best” doesn’t pan out; there’s too much to consider. But I refuse to dwell in fear. How do you feel about it all?

Most of us, especially if you’re in on this conversation, are trying to figure out some kind of balance with technology. And however deliberate, we approach it with one of three ways: Avoidance (limiting exposure), Acceptance (living in the moment), or Accommodation (a combination of both). Bluntly, we either dodge it, ignore it, or engage it.

It’s a juggling act, right? A fine balance of awareness and limitation, advantage lies with fierce commitment to boundaries, freedom, and constant communication. Without these things, we fall complacent to ‘accept’ whatever lands on our doorstep.

This is all reallyhumbling.The ebb and flow for independence still requires more. It calls for a willing heart. Character is a choice, the key to all of it.

So, the question is really this.How do we encourage strong character?

DIY Positive Online Character

Could it be so easy!?

Here are some ideas for inspiring strong character with technology freedom in our homes, including (a parenting perspective).

Determine the Goal:(Independence and Self-regulation. Do our kids understand that the choices they make directly effect their future? What they do is a reflection of who they are, not us. All of this is focused toward autonomy, and we want the best things in life for them. The tricky part is trying to keep that in mind when it’s hectic.)

Determine Reasoning: Why is this the goal?(Our kids are just years away from becoming adults! Like I said, we want the best for their future. But since they’re still kids, what’s the short-term plan? This is where it gets crazy. “Mom, can I get this app?” “Can I watch Youtube?” “I want to get this game.” You know the plea bargaining, — everyone’s kids are doing it. ‘I want more…I want more.’ It’s how we’re wired and it’s how technology is moving. For us, this is where boundaries are a lifeline for reasoning.)

Design Boundaries / Consider the Consequences:(If we can’t discuss the consequences, we can’t allow opportunity. In other words, unless consequences are age-appropriate / something we’re comfortable explaining, it has to be a definite “no.” Everything else can be opportunity for learning. Well, sort of. You know the boundaries I was talking about? They’re different for each of my kids. But no matter what, technology is a privilege. The ability to have a phone, create passwords, download apps, use the internet, all of it — it’s our gift to them. It’s a ‘gift that keeps on giving.’ Seriously though…it is. Regardless of all efforts, an attitude of expectation totally sinks their boat. Expectation halts the gifting.)

Create accountability.(This is the big part. Accountability is built on a relationship with trust and respect. Each of our kids has unique needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Accountability looks different for each one. Our job is to meet them where they are at. We have to pay attention and stay aware. It’s not easy, at all. In addition, we can’t be ignorant to temptation. Even as we work toward trusting relationships, it’s only logical to limit what’s on the plate. We have to set some kind of restrictions. For my family, these have grown to include internet filtering, time and password limits, and other restrictions that manage ratings and content. What kind of limits work for you, for your family?)

Age and experience do not define us. Online identity is powerful.

Every day is a new beginning! Be determined for this, no matter where you are at.

I often wonder, what would it have been like to raise kids 20 years ago? Does every generation feel like their dilemmas are the hardest? When I wish for a manual on modern revolution, I have to remember that it all falls back on the heart. And since the beginning of creation, that has always been. I’m thankful for my faith and the power that prayer has in my life. I don’t center posts around this, sensitive that there are many beliefs. But for me, my faith in God is the greatest source of peace I can ever find.

Together We Thrive!

Ayme

Modern Day Characters

Extraordinary lives make beautiful gifts for teaching. Lately, we’ve been learning a lot from the examples of two in particular, and my family has had some interesting conversations. Just turn on the tv…or don’t. — It wouldn’t necessarily make a difference. You hear people talking about them everywhere, our presidential candidates. I don’t remember it being so intense when I was young, but election interest seems to be on the rise with kids these days.

Anyway…

While November voting is fast approaching, something else calls for attention with the two candidates, regardless of who wins. Digital recordings have ball-and-chained each of them to negative actions from their pasts. Their choices have have been recorded, and accountability is pressing. It’s a perfect example of modern day character and consequence, and digital awareness.

I waiver upon airing the debates in my home. The behavior between grown-ups is hard to explain to my kids, and it’s embarrassing. Among the most innocent of it, why do they always interrupt each other? We’ve watched as the character of two potential presidents has been cross-examined by choices from their past. Digital trails have fossilized their past mistakes, and they are traceable, regardless of time. These are the kinds of examples that can segway to incredible conversation in our homes. Digital history is lasting for everyone, and it can be reviewed years from now. Whatever we do and say online leaves a trail.

So, I’m choosing to be thankful for the example of these modern day characters. I’m thankful because they’re leading me toward great conversation with my kids. Along with digital permanence, here’s a short list of what we’ve been talking about. I wonder what else I could add. Any ideas?

Character matters most when you think no one is watching.

Social Media spreads things like wild fire. Be careful what you post.

Live life like you’re being recorded. You never know who’s watching.

Being sneaky never leads to good things.

Who you are matters more to others than what you do.

Money can’t buy you everything.

Pride surely comes before a fall. Humility is honorable.

Disengaged Together | A Family Crisis

 

Screen time, tech, networking – whatever you call it – the digital world has captivated our attention and our lives. Is it ok? I mean, is it ok to use a screen for almost everything? Do we even have a choice? Time management is hard enough for myself, but as a parent — juggling it for my kids too, it’s a lot of work. This has been one of the greatest challenges for me and Dave. Setting boundaries and sticking to them wears us out. BUT it’s worth it! Every day, every exhausted evening, every prayer…it’s all worth it to us. Let me tell you why.

With just a few clicks, our family can totally disengage from one another, even while sharing the same room. Each of us finds a connection somewhere else. And without boundaries, these connections could easily dull our relationships. What are these new connections, and why are we all so mesmerized?

The digital path leads us places, takes us anywhere we want to go…literally. So we have to ask, “Do we know where our kids are? Do we know what they’re doing?”— even when we sit side by side.That is why we push forward. That’s why the issue of limitations matters to us and why we make an effort for technology boundaries in our home. We are just at the beginning of this process, learning by trial and error. But we believe it is incredibly worthwhile.

I ask myself, how can we monitor all of this…seriously, how? Can we just not have electronics around anymore? Could it really be so easy? I don’t think so. Technology is a growing part of our world and everything we do. It’s even a key component for public school instruction. So, it seems we should all agree on this. Our children need to know the circumference of digital freedoms, that good and ugly exists — before they’re independent users. We can’t defend the digital world as a simple realm anymore…It isn’t. — I’m not saying that kids need details. That could be disastrous. I’m saying, if we let our kids roam, they better have safety gear and survival skills for wherever they’re headed.

How can I talk to my kids without scaring them? I don’t want to say too much or too little. Where’s the line that defines ‘over-protective’ and ‘under-protective’? It seems so different for everyone. I need confidence and a positive approach, so I am ready to lead my kids toward good things. I want any fear that I have to sharpen me. I remind myself that boundaries are stepping stones, not walls. Enforcing rules and protecting our kids is not mean. I have to remember my heart for these little people and our purpose with boundaries. Freedom is meant to be good.

Have you heard about “lifeguard parenting?” (Who’s coming up with these terms anyway?) I like this new label. Different from a helicopter parent, the ‘lifeguard parent’ rescues their kids in emergencies, but supports their independence. They give freedom, but they stay close by, and they stay aware. As my kids get older, I want them to know – with certainty – that they are not alone…yet they are becoming strong and independent decision makers. As they reach out, I want to be tuned in enough to warn them when waters become dangerous and help them find safety. We have to pay attention with diligence. Would a lifeguard on duty look away from the station?

In each of our homes, whatever lifestyle we choose, let’s try the best we can to lead our children toward a strong foundation with technology. It will be worth it!