No, wait…are you “#connected” with your kids?
You have to love hashtags. Not only do they serve a purpose in social media, but they give us as parents a whole new way to lead our kids to believe we are clueless when it comes to social media…when maybe we know more than they think we do! #smartmama
In this post, I’m going to give you a few examples/ observations of some of the key differences in how we (parents and adults) use social media vs. how teens, tweens and younger (yes even 20% of kids between ages 5 and 7 have uploaded photos to a website) kiddos view and use social media. I believe that if we put ourselves in their shoes and begin to think about how and why they are using social media vs how we use it, we can leverage this knowledge to connect with them better. And, by ‘connect’ I mean- get connected with them by friending and/or following them and connect with them emotionally as a parent.
So, here are a few examples of the mindset of adults/parents using certain social media sites vs. kids using the same sites:
|Reconnect with all of our old high school/college friends. Connect with new friends and sometime work associates. Post about the cream cheese on this morning’s bagel or the lovely dinner out. Post pics of our kids, dogs, vacations, etc- There is growing concern about privacy and controlling what we post and who can see it.||Hang out with friends. Connect with everyone you have ever known. Ever. For real, I mean ever.
|Used in a more professional way as a means to express views, promote certain content or build a brand identity.||The number of followers sometimes = popularity. The more people I can get to follow me, the more people must like me. I also follow all of my favorite celebs- wouldn’t it be so cool if someone actually followed me back? Twitter is to high school what Instagram seems to be for younger kiddos.|
|Well, this is kind of cool and easy! I can upload pics easily and just post comments and emoji’s. My kids want one (or maybe I already let my kids set one up), so I figured I needed to have one to follow them!||Where I learned social media. Because my best friend got an iPod Touch and figured out how to download Instagram when we were hiding in her closet from her mom. Now I want one. Should I ask mom or dad? Nah- they’ll never figure it out. Look at all of my followers!!!! People must really like me!|
|Kik||Can’t figure why in the world I would ever need this. I played soccer in 6th grade- does that count?||Yeah, I set up an account because I have another group of friends who use this- so I can text them and attach photos and videos to the text. Kinda fun and different than just, ya know, “texting”.|
|SnapChat||What is the point of taking a picture of something that is going to fade away in a few seconds? How is that fun and where can you keep it to show your grandkids some day?||Exactly.|
|Ask FM||Is this a radio station?||(Eye roll). NO! You can ask questions- anything to anyone- anonymously. Or, you can give your name if you want. Then people answer your questions and can do it anonymously if you let them. People can get very mean since it can all be anonymous.|
Humor me here. These are merely my personal observations- coming from someone who has been there for the birth of social media as well as for the birth of my children. I have watched them both grow older, and I have been that parent standing at the door with a baseball bat, saying, “My daughter is too young for you, Mr. Social Networking Site- don’t even go there.” All the while listening to my daughter plead and insist in the background that EVERYBODY ELSE’S parents let them get online. What I quickly learned is that the rules of the game change drastically as soon as your child has access to an electronic device.
Despite the safety concerns, netiquette, and cyber bullying dangers that I normally focus on in order to educate and heighten awareness for parents of our little digital natives face, I don’t want to discount the positive ways we can leverage social media for deeper insight on our kids. I suggest that by understanding the social media applications your kiddos are using and by engaging with them (via follow or friend or even human conversation), you may have a new opportunity to understand their state of mind, their stress levels, and their relationships with other. By observing what they are posting and uploading on a regular basis, you may be able to engage with them more productively. Just think about how much more information you can glean from your daughter’s online posts than you get when you ask her about her day. Pretty sure she isn’t going to post, ‘Fine, Mom, ok?’ on Twitter. And, you probably won’t see an eye roll on Twitter either.
Be informed. Be engaged. Be connected.