With our focus on Back to School we want to address all aspects of technology and cyberbullying. It is critical to talk about exposure online and privacy. One of my big points is that as parents we need to start modeling appropriate online behaviors. As adults we don’t need to post everything in our lives, do live videos, or document every minute. We need to redefine privacy. Some things need to be private. Maybe your family routine or mantra you keep to yourself. We need to then teach our children about privacy. As a little homework, I would go through your social media feeds, see how much you might be exposing your children. They might be to young to tell you they didn’t want to be online. So think about what you are putting out there and what privacy means to you.
Be clear on what you expect of your children online. Go over how it is important to have a supportive group of followers and to not accept everyone that wants to follow you. The more followers your child might have, the more likely they are exposed to stranger’s cruelty. If a post goes viral they can be criticized, teased, and harassed by thousands of people that they don’t even know. Really emphasize to think before they post. I teach students that if they can’t wear it on their shirt and walk into an assembly, then it should not be online. For example, If they post about their thoughts, rants, or views then that might expose them to critical audience and they can’t take it back. Others might have a reaction to your child’s post and once they put it out there it is hard to control. So have them be aware of how people have the right to react to what your child posts. We can only control our behaviors, we can’t control what others will do or say. Teens and tweens often take the “I don’t care” mentality, but deep down they do care about how others view them. We are wired as humans to be connected and feel part of a community or part of something, and to be included and loved. So when kids get violently attacked online, it goes against our core beliefs and instils sadness, shame, self-doubt, anger and pain. This is why we want to create awareness about children over exposing themselves online, they might be sitting on a ticking time bomb and you are the only one that can disarm this behavior.
As we go over privacy and exposure, one thing to note is your child might have a spam or a finstagram (fake Instagram) account. This is common for teens I work with and often those accounts are just a tad bit surprising as you can imagine. So when setting expectations and boundaries, it is important to be open and honest and discuss these fake accounts and being clear of the definition of privacy. You don’t want your kid to have multiple accounts, being exposed or exposing others, and they have no idea of how much damage they might be doing. So have these open talks. It is also important to comprise and define privacy between you and your child, so you can avoid or help them get rid of their fake accounts. By having these difficult conversations you can really shed some light on how social media is not private, but more of a media platform to share parts of your child’s life.
Until Next Time…
CEO/President of Bulldog Solution, Inc.
Adjunct Professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology