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Social Media for Kids

September 20, 2011

I figured I might as well jump in with both feet.  I mean why not right?  It’s always good to get everybody talking early.  Okay, so what about social media and our teenage generation?  Good, bad or just plain ugly?

I guess you could say I’m a tech friendly parent.  I have two kids, my daughter is 8 years old and my son is only 19 months old.  My daughter is coming to that age of social media awareness.  She realizes the internet exists and she wants to use it and she does.  She has her own computer already.  It’s an old thing, destined for a museum some day, but it works.  It’s enough for her.  She can play her games on there and check her email.

Email?  But she’s only 8 and can barely spell!  Yes I realize this.  I paid a one time fee to setup an email for her that I have control over.  She gets no spam,  ever.  The only email addresses that she can get email from are the ones that I put on a contact list for her.  She can only send email to those same addresses.  If I haven’t authorized the email she doesn’t see it.  So that means if one of these people gets a virus or has their email stolen and the spam starts coming, I’ll see it before my daughter does.  We’re not at the point yet where she knows enough to setup her own email accounts, so this works.

She has a few websites she can visit.  They are Disney or child friendly websites that have games on them that she likes to play.  Again, she hasn’t figured out how to type in a website address and go somewhere else.  So for now she can only go to the sites that I’m willing to put her on.  Will she figure it out at some point?  Absolutely!  Fortunately for me I have the ability to block just about any website I want to.  I’ll share those tips and tricks as we go along.

Now that said, I guess simply because of the sheer number of hours I spend on the web in a given week I don’t think the Internet is as evil and bad as some do.  I have the view that the Internet is a giant teachable moment that I can use to show my daughter how to remain safe and still have a good time.  Because I spend so much time here and because I know that my daughter is coming to an age where she will also be spending a lot of her time on the web as well, I feel like I can use it to my advantage.  It can be a relationship building experience instead of one where I just simply say “no” until she’s old enough to make her own decisions.

Facebook will come, when she’s 13.  Twitter will come, probably around the same time, along with whatever new social media pops up between now and then.  Cutting them off from social media is like sending them to school in a muzzle.  It’s part of their social network, the way the kids relate to each other.   I think accepting these media, learning to use them ourselves, and being part of that environment is part of being a parent just like going to the hockey game and attending the Christmas concert are part of being a parent.  It’s just something we have to do!

I will, in future posts, provide ways of controlling your child’s Internet experience, provide links to child friendly email (you will have to pay for these), and discuss Facebook and Twitter in more detail.  Feel free to ask questions in the meantime though and I will be happy to answer them.

Have a great day!

Laura

a.k.a. The Geeky Teacher

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From → Archived

One Comment
  1. Joanna permalink

    Great point about the internet-this “parent generation” didn’t have computers or social media growing up. We connected out on the playground, or over the phone. Through the internet we have many more ways to connect, and not teaching it to our children puts them at a disadvantage. The onus is on us to monitor and control it so they are not exposed to inappropriate content. I look forward to your next post on this!

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