In the spirit of practical exercises, think about the last article or blog post you read on the topic of social media. Regardless of the expertise of the author, it seems that there is always a sense of the unknown just beneath the surface.
The fact of the matter is that social media as we know it is relatively new. Yes, I have read the theories of social media tracing back to WWII, or more recently, ARPANET, but we are living in a very different age today….regardless of the exact origin.
For most of us, social media became real and integrated into our lives when we set up our Facebook account, tweeted our first tweet, or decided to set up that blog that we thought would make us famous. As exciting as it was, this is also the time when we opened ourselves and our families to a level of exposure unknown to the “un-famous.”
I will admit that while my daughters are still a little young to be interested in social media, my involvement requires a certain level of diligence. With a few clicks of the mouse you can find horrific stories of kids being lured into compromising situations. What once required a lot of work on behalf of some nefarious character, can now be disguised as a harmless friend or relative.
As dads, we need to have a game plan!
Get Out In Front
The worst possible thing any parent can be is reactionary. This is especially true when we are talking about something of consequence like our kids’ safety.
So plan! If your children are merely at the cusp of social media involvement then you need to get your mind made up. Develop talking points around the pitfalls and dangers involved. Ask yourself what age is appropriate for a Facebook account. How tight should the security settings be? What are the rules for accepting “friend requests?” Will you insist on them “friending” you for a time?
If you are a parent of an existing social media guru…then by all means get going! You are the parent, but remember that kids do appreciate being part of the solution. Make sure that they understand your reasoning and then let them take part in setting the parameters.
Setting rules and developing expectations late in the game is going to be challenging but completely doable.
What About Tech Help?
I know what you’re thinking! “This is good in theory but how can I possibly keep track of all this?” My answer: rely on the incredibly smart people who do it for a living.
There are several companies that offer technology specifically for the purpose of monitoring online activity.
A few of them are:
Whether you want to get incredibly detailed or just monitor for harmful interactions, there are products that can help. If you are like most parents, the easier it is, the more likely we are to take action.
Besides, who doesn’t like a helping hand?