Parenting & Social Media Part 2 — What Every Parent Should Know about Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and More

As a parent, do you ever feel like your teen or young adult children are speaking a completely different language when they start talking about Facebook or Twitter?  Have you any idea what they are “blogging” about?  As if text message abbreviations aren’t bad enough, now there’s even more on the internet for your kids to get into.  It’s not as strange and complicated as it may seem, and your children will benefit from the wisdom you can share to guide them along the savvy social media path.  Plus, you’ll gain a few cool parent creds along the way.

I started using social networking sites, generally known as social media, several years ago on a personal level.  I am also a social media marketing professional who understands how businesses are attempting to reach social media users to increase profits.  I’ve seen the inner workings that most users are never aware of.  As a parent of 2 pre-teens and 1 teenager, I also have a heart for parents and the challenge of raising kids in a wired world.

To help equip you to guide your kids through the social media maze, here are a few of my basic Social Media Cool Mom tips.

GET INVOLVED

This tip is the key to all the rest.  How can you provide guidance to your kids if you aren’t familiar with the tools they are using online?  Even if the whole social media thing doesn’t interest you, it really interests your kids, and you need to be a part of the community to understand it.  Each platform has its own nuances, so it’s best to put your toes, so to speak, in the same waters as your teens.  If they are on Facebook, you need to be on Facebook.  If they are tweeting away on Twitter, then you need to be following them.  Step out of your comfort zone and be there for your kids.  Trust me, they will have a great deal of respect for the effort you make to be a part of their world.

Ideally, you should be involved BEFORE your kids are signed up for any social media service, but even if they beat you to it, there is still much they can learn from you about mature and responsible online communication.

Facebook

Privacy settings are the key to wise use of Facebook.  Even most long time users aren’t fully aware of all of the settings they have control over.  It’s important that you know that Facebook defaults to wide-open public settings.  Unless you go in and take the time to check all of the boxes, your account is fully exposed to the internet world.

The next time you log into Facebook, take a moment to click on the little toggle arrow in the upper right corner next to the word “home.”  It will give you a little drop down menu.  Clicking on the “Privacy Settings” option will take you to a whole page of settings for all sorts of things from general visibility of your profile to specific settings for posts and how much information will be given to 3rd party apps.  Take the time to explore this page and revisit every 30 to 60 days.  Then, sit down with your kids and do the same for their accounts.  Help them build this great habit early.

Also, be aware that each time you post a new item to your timeline, you can control how pubic the individual post is.  If you haven’t reset your basic posting privacy, all posts default to public and have a little globe icon next to the Post button.  It’s a globe for a reason; the whole world can see it.  You can always set your post visibility on a post-by-post basis by clicking that little toggle next to the post button.

Facebook has a Family Safety Center that will help you through all the steps and much more I haven’t mentioned here.

Twitter

Twitter is a completely open and public network, unlike other social networks that you must first grant permission to other users to make a connection.  On Twitter, anyone anywhere can follow any other account at will.  If your kids are using Twitter just to keep up with other friends, I highly recommend that you have them set their account to private.  It doesn’t keep them completely off of the internet grid, but it does provide a little bit of a layer of privacy.  Please, keep in mind that if any of their friends are not private and they share something your teen had to say, then it also becomes public.  It’s as easy as choosing Settings from the drop-down menu and checking the “Protect my Tweets” box.

The first tip is really important with Twitter.  The more you use the service yourself, the more you will understand what is possible for your kids to do with it.

YouTube

Every kid wants to be famous, and YouTube is a very tempting way for kids to expose themselves.  What you may not realize, though, is that YouTube is also a social network where users can subscribe to other users channels, leave comments, and start conversations.  Even if your teen or college student isn’t posting videos themselves, they can comment and get to know other YouTubers.  And Google has made it very easy to interact with all of its products with a one-time account set up.  If your child has a Gmail address, then they have a Google account and access to YouTube’s social network.

Blogs

There are tons of sites that are free to join and share your thoughts with the world.  Google’s Blogger.com, WordPress.com, and Tumblr.com are the most popular but far from the only blogging sites out there.  What makes them social is the opportunity to comment on writings, videos, and photos published on your teen’s blog.  I’ve known parents that had no idea that there was a conversation component to what their kids were publishing.  Be aware of what your child is writing about.  Sometimes they will share things on their blog that they might not have the nerve to share with you face to face.  Working out their emotions in public is never a good idea and could make them vulnerable to predators disguised as someone who understands them.

I have to go back to my first tip again.  It’s so important that you’re involved in your kids’ activities online.  Don’t deny them the opportunity to connect, learn, and be a part of the social community.  But be there to guide them.  They lack your life experience to determine what is okay to share and what should remain private and off the grid.  If you’ll take the time to get involved, you’ll find yourself connecting with your children in ways you never thought possible.

 

Alan K’necht (@aknecht), the author of “The Last Original Idea – A Cynic’s View of Internet Marketing” (http://www.TheLastOriginalIdea.com) and a founding Partner at Digital Always Media Inc., together with Michelle Stinson Ross (@SocialMichelleR ) , a blogger and novelist, an active social media marketing specialists, they host the successful weekly Twitter Chat #Socialchat which frequently reaches a potential audience size of 800,000 plus.

Copyright: Losevsky Pavel