Any parent will probably agree with me that the older our kids get, the dumber we get. At least that’s what our kids think. As their bodies grow, so do their egos in terms of what they think they know. Being perfectly honest, I was pretty worldly and brilliant at the mature age of 13. And my parents knew nothing- or so I thought.
As parents of today’s tween and teen generation, the vast majority of us are using some form of social media. And, we use it differently than our kids do. For example, when I jumped on Facebook in 2009, it was purely to re-connect with high school classmates I had lost touch with living out of state. Since Facebook, we’ve seen the launch of several popular social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, etc etc etc the list goes on. It’s an understatement to say that technology moves fast. It’s a bigger understatement to say that it can be a challenge to keep up with all of the new apps that appeal to kids- whether or not they are “legally” old enough to use them. I’ve discussed, in prior posts, the importance of staying current on the apps our kids are using, so I thought it would be interesting to gain some insight and perspective from my kids and nieces about what THEY believe their parents know about social media.
Back to the Black Friday breakfast with 6 kids (ages 10, 12, 12, 13, 15 and 16)…
Question: How much do you think your parents know about the social media you’re on?
10 year old- “Everything, my mom checks my Instagram every week”.
(This particular 10 year old hasn’t hit the bell curve yet for believing she is smarter than her parents:)
12 year old- “My mom stalks me on Instagram (eye roll).”
Other 12 year old- “Mom, seriously? Social media is your living. You probably know more than a lot of parents do.”
13 year old- “My dad doesn’t know how to get on anything but Facebook. He wouldn’t even know how to set up an account on Instagram.”
First 12 year old again: “That’s how my dad is! [giggle giggle] He thinks you can “zoom in” on Instagram- lol!”
15 year old- silence and sweet smile. She’s no dummy.
16 year old- “Ugh, mom. You know the answer to that question. I can’t post anything without worrying about you commenting or retweeting. Just please stop using hashtags. You don’t know how to use them.”
After explaining to her that I DO understand how hashtags work, I thought that would be a good subject to tackle. At this point, we are through breakfast and they are (not so) patiently waiting to begin the Black Friday hunt for bargains. Restless and about done with the conversation, they succumbed to just one more question.
Question: Do your parents use hashtags?
10 year old- “I’m pretty sure, yes.”
12 year old- “Yes, but not the right way. My mom just got a Twitter and my dad doesn’t do Twitter. My mom just shouldn’t use hashtags since she’s just learning Twitter.”
Other 12 year old- “Mom, you do not know how to use hashtags. It’s embarassing.”
13 year old- “My dad thinks they’re a kind of hash browns.”
15 year old- “Not my parents, but my teachers do because they have teenage kids.”
16 year old- “Mom, you always make up hashtags, you can’t do that. And, you don’t need to add a hashtag when you text me. (which I do just because I love hashtags and love to make her think I am clueless as to how to use them:). And, you don’t need hashtags for everything. Just stop with the hashtags, please!”
It was definitely an entertaining conversation. Anytime you ask kids their opinions of their parents’ knowledge, they can’t wait to lament about how painful it is to raise parents these days. Beyond entertainment value, however, it’s eye opening to catch the view through your children’s eyes. Sometimes, they are right on target. Other times, they either over or underestimate what you know. Either way, it’s another opportunity to connect with them and glean useful nuggets of information that may guide further conversations.
So, if you take nothing more for this series of 3 posts than using these same questions with your own kids at the dinner table- you will uncover some priceless information that will help you understand what type of coaching or conversations you need to have with them. Just because you check in on their posts once in a while and/or monitor their usage as a friend or follower doesn’t mean you really see all of what’s going on with them online. Nothing replaces earnest conversation – and remember that kids are kids. They are not mentally equipped to manage unmonitored online social lives in the same way that adults can.