Like many teenagers, my daughters LOVE social media. Like many teens across the country Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube are some of their favorite sites to connect with friends. My sister used to talk on the phone a lot. Coupling the independence summer brings with the always on nature of social media can be a recipe for disaster. Parent and children need some social media tips to help both parties survive the summer.
Teachers and parents want students to stay engaged with their education during the summer. No one wants to start over in August with children who erased their brains during the break. Social media is not evil and mobile technology are not evil. Here are some social media tips to
- Schedule time – Students should be allowed some technology time. They should feel empowered to decide how they want to use the time: social media, gaming, watching TV, etc. However, there also needs to be time for reading, Khan Academy, math workbooks, etc. Don’t forget to include time for breaks, naps, swimming, park, etc.
- Teacher Power – Talk to your child’s teacher before school is out. Today’s teachers as experts in the classroom AND the computer. They can share apps and websites for math and spelling practice. If the teacher is not available, ask your local librarian. Librarians are media experts and will find online and offline resources to help students. Send a tweet to the library and ask about special summer programs to involve students and families.
- Team work – Don’t leave your children alone to make their own decisions. Participate with them on reading, social media and technology time. If they grow up doing it with you, when they are teens, it will seem “less weird.” Read your book while they read their theirs. You can do this during the day or after work. Education should be a family event.
- Location, Location, Location – Mobile technology gives access to information and people anywhere on the planet (except for the dead zone in my basement). Assign a reading and learning zone to your home or apartment. Make it fun with comfortable chairs, couches and artwork. When they go to a learning zone, students must “check their phones.” Mobile devices are a distraction even when they are just in the area. Social media tip: design your own social media and technology space.
- No Location – Tell your audience where you’ve been, not where you are. Don’t post your DisneyWorld pictures while you are at DisneyWorld. Turn off the location feature of Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Sharing Snaps and Instagram photos in the moment is fun, but it tells EVERYONE you are not at home. Social media tip: wait to share.
A recent shows some alarming and grow statistics for millennials and Generation Z:
- 76% of teens (age 13 – 17 years) use Instagram
- 75% of teens use Snapchat
- Teens spend 9 hours per day consuming media
- 24% of teens report being on social media CONSTANTLY
Social media and mobile technology aren’t going anywhere, so don’t fight your child on them. Show them how they can benefit and enrich their life. Partner with your child’s teacher for a robust learning experience. Start early in helping them stay ahead of the curve. I can’t guarantee they will think you’re cool, but you may learn how to post really cute Instagram stories.
Scientifically Speaking, of course…