#ICANHELP’s mission is to empower young people, educators and parents to use social media positively. Doing that takes some intentional effort. Whether your child is just starting out with social media or if they’ve been there for a few years, we hear from parents all the time who are just overwhelmed, looking for answers and just trying to “figure it all out.”
We put together a list of 5 questions and best practices to share with kids to help them manage their social media and create a bigger conversation around behavior and choices related to social media and gaming.
Ask your kids what they like to use and why. My kids are young, and they like to tell me everything. That may change, but for now, I know their favorite YouTube videos on YouTube Kids and I know what kind of pictures they like to look at on Instagram with me. My daughter and I enjoy playing with the photo filters on Snapchat. It’s my account, and what I love about that, is that we get to use them together and I can model and guide my daughter by showing her what I share and collaborating together on what we would both like to share.
Tip: before I share a photo of my daughter I always ask her if she likes the photo. My goal is train her to do the same when she is out “in the wild” and has her own device.
You should know how Snapchat works, Instagram works, Facebook, Fortnite – whatever your son or daughter is playing on or engaging with online. A great strategy is to ask your child, “hey, I know you like to use (insert social media or gaming platform here), how does that work? If I wanted to start an account, what should I do? Who do you follow on that account? Why do you follow them?” We have spoken to a few thousand parents by this point, and we hear a lot of comments along the line of “my kids are on that, but I don’t know how it works.” You should know how these platforms work and have a basic understanding of what you can do on these platforms.
Tip: Ask your kids if they know how to report an account for cyberbullying and how blocking works. Ask them to show you, and if they don’t know, it’s good practice to try that out together.
It’s not that things are changing, it’s that they are changing so rapidly. If you are asking questions, checking in with groups like FOSI, the Cyberbully Institute, NetFamilyNews or #ICANHELP –can help you stay up to date on trends and research. Just this past March we hit a viral moment with news peaking around the globe around the Momo Challenge. My daughter even got a letter home about it. After a few hours of trending news stories, the truth started coming out that it was, by all accounts and purposes, a hoax. So, stay up to date with some of the best research and writing in this space so you can make informed decisions to support yourself and your family.
Tip: Check screen time data on your phone. We hear a lot about young people being on their device too much. It’s fun to set goals and have family challenges related to screen time. Always look at the data and see what that says about how we use our devices and when. It’s a great learning moment for everyone at home.