I am fairly active on social media so I know, perhaps more than most parents, how insidious it can be. There are so many things parents should be aware of before they can help a child navigate cyber space safely. Although it can be a scary place, social media is at the very core of how society communicates and that is because there are some very wonderful things about it. Being a parent is all about giving our kids the tools to navigate the world themselves.
My guest today is a father to 3 girls and a husband to a beautiful wife he completely adores. I wanted to know how Lance and his wife handle social media with his children because from my point of view they are doing things right. Luckily he wrote this for us and I hope to have the same loving and respectful attitude regarding social media while raising my own daughter. Lance writes his own blog at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog I hope you stop by and tell him what you think.
If Charles Dickens were alive today he’d take one look at his Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Dickens#Early_years, tweet “the internet is the worst of times and that’s it, the worst. Then he’d go teach community college or something. Since the web is full of people with poor social skills and comically repulsive characters, perhaps we should call the internet, Dickensian.
I digress because after writing online for over a decade, making great friends as a result and actually meeting my wife through the screen, I can honestly say there are some “best of times” in this digital age.
Now, that I’m the father of three daughters, aged 19, 11, and 10, I’m clued into the good and the bad so that I can help guide them not only through homework but also the media that are social, as I like to call them.
My oldest is a freshman at a local University where I live In Atlanta, Georgia. She has all of the usual social accounts but in maybe a tip of the cap to mine and her mom’s parenting, is fairly tame and or lame at using them. My two youngest girls recently got instagram accounts and like their older sisters we have all the passwords, check them with the ferocity of a Homeland Security agent on the tail of a terrorist sleeper cell, and we talk with them often about the positives and negatives of being “out there”.
The rules are simple.
1) We must have your passwords
2) We will monitor and approve or disapprove of any connections you make.
3) We hold the right to tell you to delete and or not post things we find inappropriate or out of bounds with the morals of our lives, together.
4) We will lecture you, often, about the Dickensian nature of everything.
5) We will laugh each time we use the word the Dickensian because we, okay, mostly dad, are like 12-year-olds.
I know there are some who have hard and fast family edicts about not letting their children do anything online. This may run into the same areas as abstinence versus sexual education or the talks on drugs and alcohol. As pretty liberal and very realistic parents, we try to trust our daughters and hope they make wise choices so we don’t have to drop the hammer on their “worst of times”. So far, so good. They abide by our rules, act like young ladies online and off, and their mom and I pat ourselves on the back until our shoulder joints give way.
I believe the worst thing you can do is make the internet this scary, dark, forbidden place for your kids. They have to use it for school, like to use it for entertainment, and eventually they’ll make if part of their higher education, as my oldest daughter does.
Maybe if Charles Dickens were around today, he’d be a hoot on Twitter, make fun of Facebook, post pictures of his lunch on Instagram, and not even think about Google +. Then again, his contributions to #throwbackThursday would rock pretty hard. I’m glad my kids live in the time they do and I hope their mom and I can help them use the internet for as many “best of times” as possible.
Lance Burson is a writer living w 4 women in Atlanta & not talking about Figh…Author of The Ballad of Helene Troy & Soul To Body available on amazon & lulu, ambidextrous lefty.