Both of my children are now users of social media. I went through the learning curve of parenting a child through the various social channels and risks attached with putting your thoughts and images online with my daughter but now my tweenage son is using Snapchat – playing with the filters and enjoying trying to ‘face swop’ with the cat! He hasn’t yet got into ‘Streaks’ (where you send an image daily to certain contacts and build up a consistent track record of days with streaks – my daughter and I are up to 173 days of streaks) but he is trying out the photo editing tools and learning how it all works.
Streaks are her thing – not mine. The act of taking a photo of, for example, your bedroom wall in the dark and typing ‘streaks’ over it and sending, is to me – completely pointless. However she does it with all her friends and when she wanted to start a streak with me, I jumped at the chance as it was a great way of keeping her close. I can see what kind of things she photographs and sends to everyone but it is also a line of communication that hasn’t been broken in 173 days, regardless of how we feel about each other at the time we send them. A moody teenager on a morning doesn’t particularly want to talk to her mum, but she will still send a photo to complete her streaks each day, so even though I always get dark photos of her bedroom wall where you can see nothing, I always try to make my own streak to her more interesting: my coffee cup, what I’m watching on TV, the cat as he eats his food or maybe a selfie.
Relating to kids on their level is essential to keep them safe. Even though parents often don’t understand fully what the various social channels outside of Facebook are, we must be willing to at least try to understand them, to show willing – so our kids feel that they can talk to us about internet safety and so we can understand the potential dangers that may come from use of these channels. AO has produced an infographic to show what the main channels are and how our kids are using them:
They have also created some very informative posts about cyber security and things like what to do if your account gets hacked. Check out the full range of resources here.
This afternoon my son is doing a presentation to his class on any subject of his choosing. All the kids have to do them, and my son chose to talk about YouTube and gaming – two of his favourite subjects. I am going in to school early to watch the presentation that he’s worked so hard on, and I’ll be interested to see who in his class knows about the subject matter and who doesn’t. He’s at an age where they are just getting into the online world, mainly through gaming, and we’ve had to have talks about people we choose to chat to in a game setting and that these people may not be a 12 year old boy just because they say they are.
Internet safety is such a crucial factor in modern day parenting, and you can never have too much information as a parent, so here are a couple of articles I wrote a few years ago on the subject:
Do you have any tips for safeguarding our children in the online world? Do share them in the comments.
This blog post is part of a series showing how we incorporate technology into our family life. In collaboration with AO.