Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Parents Just Don't Understand! Or Do They? Kids Digital Device Activity

This isn't the late 80s, so get with it!
You know parents are all the same, no matter time or place, they don't understand that us kids are gonna make some mistakes. 
The Fresh Prince with DJ Jazzy Jeff

Over the last month I have had an increase in emails and requests for information revolving one big topic: Kids and Internet Safety, specifically Social Media Communication.

I give workshops, consult and talk at great lengths about how parents, teachers, and the community can be more proactive and promote keeping kids safe online. Parents seem overwhelmed and sometimes feel helpless. They are not sure where to go to get simple, straightforward information that is easy to follow and keep updated on.

I'm here to tell ya, you don't need to read every social media parenting self-help book (many of them are obsolete as soon as they are published anyways because of the ever changing technology), surf the internet for hours looking for advice, or even spend anymore time worrying about it. Hopefully, this blog post will help PARENTS UNDERSTAND the why, how and what they are doing with these devices that seem to making our world more complicated at times.

Simply stated:
  • Developing their dignity: If you ever had a child development course or have read anything about child development in general, you know that there are stages of moral reasoning with kids from babies through adulthood.  We expect our kids to act like adults, when, they really are not. Kohlberg and Erikson, two psycholgists researched the stages of moral development. See the cliff notes version of their research below.  You can clearly see why kids make the decisions they do at the different developmental ages they progress through which also relates to their internet and social media behavior.

Erik Erikson's Psychosocial Stages of Development

Lawrence Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development.

  • Their reality is not real: Thank you very much "Reality TV." Research shows that kids brought up watching reality shows actually think what goes on is "real." What does this mean? In my opinion, two big issues. First, there will be more drama then their parents grew up with. Why? Have you ever watched a highly rated reality show? More drama, more viewers. Secondly, it (whatever 'it' is) keeps going. Whether it is a comment on a pic or video, sharing of a link about someone, a rude text of some sort...whatever it is, our technology driven society makes easier than ever to keep it going on and on.
  • Porn before puberty? So, this is the real deal, anyone, kids included can see a huge variety of pornography whenever they want. I don't care how many filters, firewalls, locks, security or dog watching you have or are doing, kids can get to it and fast. Then there's the unsuspecting parents  who say, "what's the big deal, I use to look at pics of Playboy when I was in junior high. We all were curious."  The open access to pornographic material out there which kids can view at an instant makes old school Playboy look like G-rated.  Being that it is easy to send and receive pics, texts, sexts, links and videos, kids can actually become numb to the crazy things they see coming across their digital devices. 

Be the proactive parent. I'm not a big believer in quantity over quality, you don't need a list of 20 websites to read, just these.
Check these two out and you should be set.


Some points for solutions:

  • Facebook is ancient to your kids:  Know which social media apps are trending and which new ones are coming out. Commonsensemedia.org (listed above) gives parents updated rankings of all social media apps (new and old). See how a fairly new social media app Yik Yak scores here: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews/yik-yak. Each report gives you ratings for categories ranging from violence, sex, language and privacy. The app report also gives talking points for families and valid information about the purpose of the app and the positive or negative capability it has.

  • I did not inhale.  Right. Well, your kids may ask, "did you look at dirty pics when you were my age? Did you send mean notes when you were in junior high?" It's like that age old question about drinking and smoking pot. Should you answer this question? Many psychologists will say that you cannot win this battle. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Meaning, if you share with your child that you did engage in an inappropriate behavior when you were that age, they will come back with something like, "well, you did it!" On the flip side, if you explain you did not do anything of the sort, they will respond with, "then you don't have any idea what I am going through, how could you even relate to what I am feeling?" If anything, you should divert the conversation back to your child by saying something like, "let's focus on you and what you are going through." So, keep the conversation on them and about them. as much as you can, unless you just feel like sharing your past experiences. Many experts like Danah Boyd explain, it's the way you parent through these situations, not the technology causing all the problems.

  • To track or not to track? That is the question. You are the parent, if you want to track everything, some, or none of what they do, it's your call. Curious on how you do that? Check out this website to choose which tracking app makes the most sense to you and what you want to do: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/apps-for-tracking-your-teens,review-2261.html. Some parents sleep better at night knowing that they are able to locate their kids at anytime. Others will sometimes do spot check. Please do talk with your kid(s) about what you are tracking and why. You don't want to be that hovering parent and send them running away from you, but you do want to know they are being safe and wise when it comes to using their device.

Is this really necessary?

  • Get to the root: No one is perfect, especially your kids. As parents, our main goals are to keep our kids healthy and happy, right? Remember that.  Every expert will tell you that the number one way to approach social media issues is to figure out the cause of the behavior. Talk with your kids about the what, why and how: what happened, why did it happen, how can they prevent it from happening again? Consistent casual conversations; in the car, at dinner, while shooting baskets, when you have one-on-one time with your kids are great ways to keep a pulse on what they are doing in their private (or not so private lives).  Use the resources at netsmartz.org (also listed above). This amazing website has trendy videos for kids, tweens and teens. Some are cartoon videos, others are real stories about how teenagers have been influenced or affected by internet and technology influences.  A great example of how this website supports proactive parenting is here: http://www.netsmartz.org/Cyberbullying. This webpage shares stats, conversation starters, resources including activity cards, handouts, videos and more.

Bottom line: Being approachable, keeping that open communication and having a close relationship with your kid is the best way to avoid the downfall digital devices can bring.
Show 'em you DO UNDERSTAND.

There are more tips and resources I can share, so email me or book me for a workshop!

You can sing or dance along as DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince explain this age old issue in the video below.


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  2. Hello I am so happy with your blog site, it contains all the matter with regards to
    monitor your kids online activity Good luck to you and your well performed job.