Summer, Social Media, and Digital-Age Parenting

Read the research here.

Summer is a good time for parents to learn more about the social media activities of their children, developing additional skill and more understanding about what’s happening in the digital whirl that is a huge part of kids’ social lives.

A 2011 Pew Internet and American Life Project report, Teens, Kindness, and Cruelty on Social Networking Sites, noted that 95% of children ages 12 – 17 are  online, many on social networking sites. Since that Pew report was published, media sources report that children several years younger than 12 are also using social media. Read the NPR piece, Social Networks: Thinking of the Children. Children continue to need guidance and limits-setting from their parents.

The goal is not to prevent children from exploring — that’s not realistic. Instead, parents need to gather enough information to be able to keep an eye on activities, facilitate discussions when required, and intervene when it’s necessary to insulate their kids from impulsive digital behavior on computers, smartphones, and tablets.       

That children will work and play online and that digital activities will continue to increase are both certain. Therefore parents have an enormous role to play. The 2011 Pew Internet research noted:

Parents in the United States are still the primary gatekeepers and managers of their teens’ internet experience… Parents are the most often cited source of advice and the biggest influence on teens’ understanding of appropriate and inappropriate digital behavior. Parents are also responsible for keeping their teens safe online and offline…

Use the laid-back days of summer to learn more about your children’s digital social lives.

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