Parents: Lose the social media fear!!
I often hear parents express fear over their children using social media. This is understandable – there are many things that could go wrong online. But at the same time, there are many things that could go right. I also find that the more parents know about social media, the less the fear consumes them. In order to combat ‘social media fear,’ I propose three steps: education, immersion and communication.
So often it is the fear of the unknown that is most terrifying.
For instance, I am terrified of swimming in the ocean because I have no idea what monsters may be lurking underneath me, ready to attack. Yet, as soon as I put goggles on…all of a sudden that big hungry Great White is just a tangle of seaweed. The fear is instantly removed as soon as I can see what I am dealing with.
The same can be said for social media. When you do not know what it is, or how it works or what impact it could have on your family – it is scary! And that is amplified when your only exposure to social media is the sensationally spun horror stories so often presented in traditional media.
However, by educating yourself about social media, you can turn it from a lurking shark into a tangle of seaweed. What you will find is that like any other tool, it has both pros and cons, and the outcomes all come down to how you use it.
Communicate with your children
I always like to say, communication is the key. If you have concerns about your children’s use of social media – talk to them about it. Now that you have educated yourself on all-things social media, you are in the best position to have an informed discussion with them. Explain to them where your concerns lie and discuss with them the risks and benefits you see social media presenting, and in turn, listen to their opinions and concerns.
Communication is a two-way thing, and odds are your children will still know more about social media than you do, meaning they are also a great source of information. I am sure your children would be more than happy to share some of their social media knowledge with you! In this way, you can engage in social media together, learning from one another and addressing the fear face-on.
However, your children, tutorials and even ‘experts’ like me can only teach you so much!! In order for you to assess the true potential or impact social media could have on your family, you need to understand what you are dealing with. You need to face your fear by jumping right in there and immersing yourself in all-things social media! Create a Facebook account, start pinning on Pinterest and indulge with some viral videos on YouTube. In doing so, you will begin to learn first-hand the power and potential of social media. Hopefully as a result, the fear will continue to fade away… Just like those people who overcome their fear of heights by bungee jumping off a bridge.
For more information on using social media, take a look at the resources pinned to our Online safety & education Pinterest board.