4 Tips on How to Handle Social Media With Your Kids

When I was 12, my main concern was if Mary Helen Addison would sit within a 10 foot radius of me at lunch. 2 days out of 5 she would. And 1 day out of 5 she would sit across the table from me.
I would then go home, play football in Peter Kim’s front yard, and dream of marrying her.

Today 12 year olds are jumping off bridges from being bullied online.
Today 50% of 11 year olds asked at a middle school in London knew the slang for pornography involving little people and so much more.
Today 13 year olds are posting videos of their faces on youtube and asking “Am I Pretty?

You can either grow a beard like me and move your family to Amish country or step into this world with your kids hand in hand.

Here are 5 tips on how to handle social media with your kids.

1. Create their social media accounts with them.
My mom took me to get my ear pierced when I was 14. It left me with a Micky Mouse ear ring dangling from my left lobe for 2 years and more fashion mishaps than you will have in your entire life.
But it also left me with trust.
Trust in a mom that I didn’t have to hide things from.
My kids are on Instagram. Private accounts. But I know they will at some point be on Twitter, Facebook, and probably things like Lufus, Fanbilbo, and Greentober. Because people name social media sites only when they are high on drugs.
None the less. We walk into the world of social media together. They won’t walk in alone.

2. Technology time
The world is a beautiful place. And my kids are going to see it through their 2 eyeballs as opposed to a 6″ LCD screen. We give our kids about 30 minutes a day of technology time. It’s amazing what they can accomplish in an 30 minutes. This will obviously grow in time as they get older, but it will always be gauged by their ability to use technology and not to let technology use them.  They earn it.  They don’t deserve it.

3. Don’t hand your kids porn.
I’ve said it before…you would never hand your kid a playboy and say “Don’t look at this, ok?”
Then why would you hand your kid a laptop, phone, or tablet connected to the internet and just hope they don’t stumble upon something bad?
From Instagram alone you are one click to the popular page, and then one click from a profile link to porn. 2 clicks. It’s not worth it.
Our 30 minutes of technology time and then the fact that they can only get to social media from our devices helps with that.
They have games, movies, and all sorts of fun stuff on their phones.
Just not the internet.
Social media happens from OUR phones. Mom and dad’s.

And Talk About Porn.

Our kids know it’s out there, what it is, and why it’s bad.
There is also great monitoring software out there you can install if you have older teens and such that will literally alert you if text messages use certain words or if pics have been sent at certain hours ect.

4. Hold their hand to set them free not hold them back.
With all of these tips there is a tendency to simply lock your kids out of the social media world. I like to look at it as I’m guiding my kids towards the narrow path with the full knowledge that there will be a point where I let their hand go.
I know that point will come and as with all parts of parenting, I can only lead them to the right spot. They have to choose to walk it.

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Carlos Whittaker
Carlos Whittaker is an artist, pastor, thinker, experience architect, and social media junkie. Previously, 
Carlos served as Director of Service Programming at Buckhead Church in Atlanta, GA, one of the three campuses of North Point Community Church. Before that Carlos worked for 10 years as the Pastor of Worship and Creative Arts at Sandals Church in Riverside, CA. Carlos seeks to “disturb and disrupt the church as a whole.” He blogs prolifically at RagamuffinSoul.com.

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