An ongoing conversation I seem to have with other parents, both here at school and among friends, is that of our children’s social media use. As parents, we walk the fine line of wanting to trust our children’s ability to make good decisions and knowing the minefield that is social media. I am always curious how other families navigate this issue.
It is interesting to me that both kids and adults have the tendency to say things on social media that they might not in actual conversation. Perhaps it is easier to speak without a filter when the other person is not directly in front of you; online, we cannot see the immediate impact of our words and are more inclined to put forth the unkind or inappropriate remark. Kids, in particular, struggle to understand the reach of their posts, pictures and comments.
There is much debate about the extent to which a child’s social media use should be monitored. Some argue that even children should have privacy and oversight causes distrust. Certainly, age and maturity factor in to the degree to which one supervises a child’s online activity, as kids have access to technology at an increasingly younger age.
The reason I bring this topic up is to relay that even at our small, Catholic school, misuse of social media occurs. I have seen online conversations that take on a life that some kids are developmentally unable to navigate; the wish to fit in with what peers are saying sometimes forces kids, again, into saying things they never would in person. I have always believed that kids want us to create parameters, even when they appear to rebel against them. They want us to be the rock in the rushing current of their teenage (or pre-teen) life, and protecting them as they participate in social media is part of providing that stability for them.
Katie Richardson, Vice Principal