~Some safety tips for the Social Media Realm

We need to consider a few online safety measures as Christmas approaches and children are given new smart phones, tablets, and other items that subject them to the social media world.

  • Insist on family meals and other family times are a “technology free” zone.
  • When it’s bedtime, leave all electronics outside the bedroom.  Leave the chargers in the main living area where everyone knows to leave it plugged in overnight to charge (and keep out of temptation).
  • Have devices used primarily in the main living area.  Use ear buds for the devices if too noisy.
  • Create a profile and “friend” your child.  I wouldn’t post comments to embarrass them but I still want a window into their world.
  • Talk about what happened today at school, on the bus, at home, online, etc.  Texting and “online friends” is hurting verbal communication skills and it lets you know what is going on in their world.  Stimulate conversation with open ended questions.  When most of us were children, we relied on books and our parents to be “google.”  Now children can get quicker and more complete answers by typing in a query.  Where does that leave the parent?  Where does that leave the social skills?
  • Because an online post is there for everyone to read, a malicious online posting can cause more harm than gossip we did as kids in school.  Discourage this type of behavior.
  • Physical door locks and online passwords are a privilege.  Act in a manner that causes distrust and the doors (physically & figuratively) should be open.
  • Be the role model.  You text & drive, they text & drive.  You constantly on the cell or computer, they will be too.
  • Social media can be a predator’s playground.  A parent’s intuition isn’t by accident.  Not suggesting we be over protective but I am suggesting we keep the wolves from our children as long as possible.

With all of this said, as a parent, it’s important that our children have “controlled failures.”  We all see the children that show up for a Science Fair Project that there’s no way they created that project.  We were at a church pinewood derby event when our daughter was 10.  Some of the cars entered by these elementary children were better than what I could have done myself!  Dads were flocking to watch “their child’s” car race.  I was embarrassed for them.  One dad looked at a car and very haughtily asked which child would build something “like that.”  His pretentious tone was almost humorous as I looked at the AWESOME car his child supposedly built.  I just smiled and said, “My daughter.”  It was funny listening to him stammer about.  It’s tough standing with both your feet in your mouth…  Truth of the matter, our daughter’s car looked like something a ten year old would make.  Did she win?  No, far from it.  We’ve all been there when we had to stand on our own feet.  She’ll be ready and more confident than those children whose parents always swept them up at the mere hint of a hint of a superficial booboo or the parents who stayed up into the wee hours of the morning finishing “their child’s” school project.  It’s so very important that parents be the role model and let the kids be kids.  We should always watch over them but not to the point they are simply unprepared for the “real world” when they go off to college or into the career field. Okay, off my soapbox. About the guest columnist:  Thomas Gordon is a master level martial artist and owner of Gordon Martial Arts in downtown Crestview.  Read more on this subject at www.GordonMartialArts.com/safety