Eileen Wacker is the award-winning author of the Fujimini Adventure Series. As a recognized thought leader and CEO of ONCEKids she has contributed to Fox News, Huffington Post and Resident NY Magazine.
This is part 2 of her 3-part series on Social Media and Connecting with Your Child. Find Part 1 here.
Here are a few comments I gathered from my kids and their friends:
“She keeps copying every photo I take and posting it; I’m not going to like or share anything she does”
“he unfollowed me and asked all his friends to”
“A bunch of kids unliked a girl’s photos and fb posts, because a popular boy likes her and one of the group likes him”
“Today, we were sitting in a group and Elena sent a text to me and Miley talking about Sara. I didn’t laugh but Miley did and I thought Sara was going to cry.”
Kids are using the accounts to include and exclude people. They are including the wrong people to increase their ‘friends’ and ‘likes’. They are excluding peers as a power play not understanding the ramifications on the target. They also post pictures that can make them targets. They post a photo of their front door, a picture where the wearer has a school t-shirt on, or a bathing suit shot. They are still naïve and do not understand how to judge appropriateness. They do not understand that they might be viewed by a sexual predator.
Here are some recent conversations we had with our kids:
I said to my 14 year-old daughter, “You can’t block me from seeing anything. In return, I won’t post on your wall.” She agreed.
My husband said to our 14 year-old son, “You turned your phone tracker off today. He replied, “I had my phone turned off for school and forgot to turn it back on.” My husband said, “No you have to specifically disable it.” My son confessed, “Okay at school, the other kids said parents that do this are cyber stalkers.” We took his phone for a day as punishment.
Our 9 year-old with a phone posted a quote from an inspiration site on Instagram that read, “If you love someone set them free, if he comes back he’s yours, if not, call someone and get drunk.” We made her take down the post immediately and then had a family meeting about appropriate content. She got off with a warning.
Our 10 year-old ‘unfollowed’ the 9 year-old as retribution in an argument. She came in crying, saying, “I only have 9 followers and he’s ‘unfollowing’ me to make me look like a loser.” We discussed how this is a form of bullying or what we call ‘social media shunning’.