This school social media poster, hangs in the hall of one of my kid’s schools. It was one of my most interacted Instagram pictures.
Dear fellow parents of teenagers.
This letter is written to you by a Mom, who is considered a “social media expert.” I was thrilled when this letter from St Tammany Parish school district was distributed this week. I was even more impressed with the phone calls and texts from the school, letting me know it was on the way. Just so you know, one child had tossed the letter for fear that they would get certain apps (like Vine and Instagram) taken away. As a mother of 3 teenagers, I have been to the “You did what or, that person did what on social media or the internet,” rodeo, more times than I care to recall. Since I’m still raising them, unless someone wants to borrow them until they hit their mid-twenties, I am not getting off this merry-go-round of social media and technology fun, any time soon.
As smart and savvy as I am with social media and technology, they are still one step ahead of me. They know how to get an old and broken electronic device to work in their favor when theirs is not in their possession. They know how to “make things disappear” and get on the quickest app and way to do it, before it even makes tech news! So….don’t feel bad if you are behind the eight-ball knowing what they are doing. And if and when something happens, that does not make you a bad parent!
If you think, “never my kid” as we are “Facebook friends” and I follow them on Instagram, think again! Also, it may not be them, it may be their friends or followers who are the trouble. I have seen little girls give out their telephone number and location to strangers on Instagram (with an open account) and too many other disturbing things (as you also may have). Apps for spyware are solution, but one of the kids I mentor is so smart, he installed a spyware blocker!
I’ve joked with a local group of social media parents with younger kids, that I’m writing their “how to handle technology and social media” guide for them. However, that guide is outdated the minute I post it! As technology changes, we must be on top of things. Like my friend said to me the other day, “I like how you put it in the past, you teach a kid to ride a bike, you need to teach them how to uses social media too.” I truly believe this is the hardest time in history to raise a teenager. Technology is our friend and our enemy at the same time! Even if you banned your kid from this or that or took away their electronics, they can access things through their friends!
Good luck and remember, we are all in this one together, whether we like it or not! If you see something that is not OK, better to tell a parent and have them mad at you (or even worse, let their kid be mad at your kid – sarcasm) than to turn a blind-eye. Parents can’t be everywhere and we need to help each other out!!!
The Mom who does not have any answers,
PS I highly recommend this book too.
PPS Notice the school or me, did not write the “b” word (bully). Sadly, like anything, you hear it enough, you become numb to it. It is very real and social media allows it to go on more anonymously and even worse than ever. Taking the education and awareness of all things social media, was probably the smarter angle to get the message across in the letter below, though the video below discusses it with local law enforcement.