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Staying Smart with Social Media

Email was once the main tool of communication for the internet. When the web first invaded our homes, one of the most important and useful tools it gave us was the convenience of communicating with other people all over the world through email. But that was long ago. These days, it’s all about social media and social networking sites, also known as web 2.0.

 

Social media venues are like a new world for new people. If you don’t have an account in either Facebook or MySpace, then it’s like you’re from another planet. This means that being able to join social networking websites is a big deal, especially for teens who are very concerned about getting with the flow and joining what’s new.

 

In this new age, children and teens are far more interested in digital and internet technology than school and education. For them, everything’s found in the web and without it, there’s no life in life. But what’s bothering parents these days is the negative effect, not of the internet in general, but specifically of social media.

 

When email first came in, there was nothing especially dangerous about it except for picking up viruses through spam and predators sending some sexually explicit messages. Other than that, it is something that’s not addictive in nature. This may be because one still has to wait for a response. It’s like a fast form of writing letters. It’s not immediate communication and so it does not give immediate gratification.

 

But now, social networking sites like Facebook have replaced the role of email in interactive communication. Aside from exchanging messages, anyone can communicate, chat, and post profiles, view photos and videos and comment on issues all in just one program or site. You as a member can virtually do anything in it without having to worry about what’s wrong and what’s right. And the implication is possible addiction.

Children and teens are very prone to social media addiction. They are by instinct naive, irresponsible, innocent, and very curious. Their main objective in life is to have fun and make the most out of every opportunity. Now combine these features with unmonitored social media usage – the result can be total disaster.

 

Children, teens, and social media are the perfect ingredients for a disastrous recipe. This means that when your child is hooked and becomes largely dependent on it, trouble is guaranteed. As such, it is crucial for parents to get their kids’ attention and start talking about the consequences of social media addiction and the necessary steps to be taken in order to avoid it.

 

When it comes to fighting the negative effects of technology, you have to learn it first-hand. You cannot afford the excuse that the younger generation is too far advanced from their parents when it comes to internet technology. The point is, if you want to control and monitor your child’s exposure in Facebook and MySpace, you have to register yourself and sign in to find out what exactly is making your child addicted to them.

Kids of different ages use the internet and social media in different and distinct patterns. Children and younger teens prefer instant messaging and texting while teens are fond of social networking like Facebook. But whatever medium they use, you have to have a certain way of monitoring what they are receiving and sending from those communication tools. You can ask them some questions in a rather friendly and not authoritarian manner in order to get information while avoiding their opposition. Here are some examples:

 

  • What’s new in Facebook? Who posted in your wall? Are there any new comments or messages?
  • Have you added a friend today?
  • Any funny texts today?
  • What did you write in Facebook or Tweet lately?

If you religiously ask these questions, your children will learn to share their experiences in social media. That’s obviously a good thing because you get to monitor whether or not they’re becoming addicted to it. Of course, you cannot be too judgmental if your child says or does something you know is wrong. They won’t share if they fear retribution. Rather, encourage proper behavior and use rational discipline that is not based on your emotions at the moment.  As soon as you suspect it, you can take the necessary steps to halt the addiction. Some of these steps include:

 

  • Talk to your children about the possible negative effect of being totally attached to it.
  • Try to establish some activities or events like going out fishing or swimming that will stray them away from thinking too much of signing into their Facebook or Twitter accounts.
  • If the computer is located inside your child’s bedroom, transfer it to a shared family space where you can easily check and monitor them as they go online.
  • Limit and schedule your child’s internet use and in no time you will find him/her getting disinterested in social networking.
  • Try a “social media fast” for a few days or even weeks. This can force you all to share some family time and will make your children explore other venues to entertain themselves.

Finally, just build all the essential stuff to instill to your children that social media venues like Facebook and Twitter should be used to advance wholesome and healthy communication with other people and there is no need to communicate with people who seem bent on exploiting and abusing them.


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