I often field questions from parents asking about how to navigate the role of social media in their children’s lives. “Should I allow my teen to have a Facebook?” “Is it ok for him/her to be posting so many selfies?” “What is ‘Snapchat?'”
Most of the time, the answers to these questions vary from teen to teen and family to family. Often times the goal isn’t to come up with the “right” answer. Instead, the goal is to start a dialogue.
As long as you’re having regular conversations around these topics, healthy guidelines around social media will begin to present themselves to the attuned parent.
I was reminded of the importance of these conversations when I read a newspaper article last week about Ed Sheerin quitting Twitter. Turns out, not even celebrities are immune from cyber-bullying. People can be really mean when they are behind a computer screen. And it’s important to remember that, despite whatever childhood maxims we may have grown up with, words really can hurt. A lot.
If a 20-something songwriter who sells millions of records and has thousands of adoring fans isn’t immune to the hurtful things people say on social media, neither are our teens.
Maybe this is a helpful reminder for us. In addition to all of the amazing things that come with social media, it brings with it the power to hurt and be hurt. And just like anything else that brings power, it requires responsibility, training and a conversation with our kids before we let them loose on it.
Written By: Eric McClerren, LAPC