This morning, Mary Konow, owner of MK Career Designs in Roseville, delivered a presentation to parents who wanted to know more about the social media landscape their tweens and teens are navigating, and offered some insights about helping youth think correctly in their cyber social realm. The social media workshop was hosted as a public service by St. Joseph Marello Catholic Church.
A mother of three ages 12 and under, Konow encourages parents to consider that the ability to navigate social media in a secure and wise manner has fast become an essential social skill for the modern family. “In my career planning field, I have learned how important it is for parents to teach their kids to think clearly about what they are sharing and with whom,” she said. “I have witnessed examples of college scholarships and job interview opportunities lost because of what the admissions staff and hiring manager found on the candidates social media platforms.”
Konow presented some of the popular apps that attract youth, including Instagram, Kik, SnapChat, Twitter and Tumblr. “Facebook is where parents hang out,” she said “So the kids have moved on to other platforms.” Below are some tips Konow offers parents to be better informed and offer proactive guidance for youth.
- To keep tabs on the apps your tween or teen is using, search your child’s mobile phone for active apps, by going onto the app store on their device and then scroll down. “You will see what’s trending, or most popular, and then you can also see which ones have been activated on your child’s device.”
- When your child expresses an interest in joining a social network, do the research with them so they can learn to be discerning. The first question to ask is “Are there age restrictions?” And then have a conversation about why age-restrictions exist and set expectations accordingly. (For more about setting age-appropriate boundaries for use of mobile devices and apps, go to: Cyber Rites of Passage).
- Be clear with your children that it is not acceptable to post about your family business, including pictures while on vacation. Issues, concerns or conflicts that could expose and or humiliate individuals of your family must be kept out of the news feeds. In this regard, parents need to be mindful about withholding the urge to vent their frustrations in their on line “friend communities” as this is information that can return to haunt you and your child and harm your relationship.
- When you log into your device or computer, be mindful that young children are watching and learning. If you do not log out, and walk away from the device your very young child may access the device. Make sure you have locked the device before leaving it unattended.
- Get your kids talking about commercial influences when ads come up in all media, including the browsers or social media news feeds. Ask your child, “What do you think they are trying to sell you?” Explain to your child that free apps always have an upsell, and that you never get something for nothing. You are always giving up something. One of the parents in the workshop pointed out, for example, that Facebook claims rights to use the photos people post.
- Periodically “Google” your name and your child’s name. This way you can see what future college admissions or a future hiring manager might find. According to Konow, college admissions are using LinkedIn, a professional social media platform, to access information about candidates and so the age restriction to be on that site has been lowered to 13.
- And finally, coach your child to ask themselves three questions before they decide to join a network or post something: What information are you giving away? Who are your giving it too? Is that a good idea?