With more access to mobile and connected devices, social media use is at an all-time high. The most popular sites for teens are Instagram and Snap Chat with Twitter getting an honorable mention. (Facebook is for old people). Texting via messenger or apps like “WhatsApp” is also popular. Here are 7 social media tips for teens and parents of teens.
1. Parents MUST have all passwords to all social media accounts!
This is non-negotiable! It's not enough to simply be your teen’s friend or follower. There is a lot of content that is only accessible with the password! For the safety and protection of your teen, every parent should have open access to their teen's pages - messages - pics and content. Because social media is an open, public, social setting this is not an invasion of privacy! -- If your teen is not willing to give you their password they should not have that social media account.
2. Only "friend/follow" those people that they know IRL ("in real life")
Only face-to-face friends should be followed - I suggest teens and parents do a friend review twice a year. If a friend doesn't fit the following criteria they should be unfriended or unfollowed: 1. Do you know them IRL(in real life)? 2. Have I talked with them (not on the web) within the past 6 months? 3. Is this friend's page and posts helpful, positive and appropriate? Most teens should have less than 200 facebook friends if they follow this criteria. For those who you follow on Twitter and Instagram you might have the occasional exception of following a public figure – in that case use the standard in question #3 is this page or person helpful, positive and appropriate for me to follow?
3. Live by the Rule – NEVER post/message something that is negative.
It is very easy to vent about your day, school, home, friends or even the weather on social media with post like "I hate my school/teacher" or "my friend is so stupid", "I’m mad at so and so" etc ... Texts and posts should only be used to say positive things about life and not to complain or vent! When you post comments, it is hard read a tone of voice or ascertain a mood making it easy to be misunderstood. Never type anything negative! No venting. No complaining. No correcting, No being mean. When in doubt talk it out!
4. Pictures should be regularly reviewed and edited.
Anyone can post a picture to your page. Do the pictures you post send a good message? -- Just like words, pictures can be easily misunderstood, particularly for teen girls. Pictures of your teens in swimming suits should be avoided and removed. Swim suit pics should never be your profile pic because they attract the wrong kind of attention on social media! Moms and dads should regularly review their teen's pics and posts.
5. Keep internet or texting capable devices out your of the bedroom.
Some teens sleep with their cell phone or iPad under their pillow at night. STOP IT! Buy an old fashion alarm clock and kick your iPod out of your bedroom. Set up a charging station in a common room (kitchen or Living room – or worse yet in your parent’s room) to store all devices from 8pm-8am. It is not healthy to have internet capability or to text friends at all hours of the night. Sleepovers or for friends not phones! (PS - the family dinner table should also be a device free zone).
6. Give your Social Media nights and weekends off.
In other words…take a break. In a culture of constant contact you’ll have to be deliberate in being out of contact. Put your iPad down, turn off your phone and log out. My advice, have set hours that devices are connected (say from after school till dinner /2-6pm) then dock them the rest of the time. If your phone buzzes on off hours ask mom and dad if its ok to reconnect…if you’ve been good they might just say yes!
7. Finally - Use your page and posts to positively reflect your relationship with Christ!
What does your page or posts say about your relationship with God? I used to say if you want to get to know a teen look at their Bible and their room. I now have to add their Instagram feed to that list! Social media can be a virtual "light on the hill” It is a great place to show your love for God! Post verses, prayers, thoughts from church, positive song lyrics and encourage others to do the same. On the other hand, it can also be a place where God is left out or even worse, a place that damages your testimony. Keep pages and posts glorifying to God! "Whether therefore you eat or drink do all to the Glory of God!"
--PJ Questions or comments can be sent to Pastorjoshpark@gmail.com
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