I have written before about your ‘digital footprint or profile’ so how do you talk to your teen about theirs? My kids hear me say often, “don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the Townsville Bulletin tomorrow, or used in a court of law one day (they do not really get the seriousness behind this one) or want your Mother to read. My latest one: when you are Governor General of Australia would you want that photo or comment published in the future? You might think it’s a funny cute photo now as a teen but will you in the future when you life looks very different?
Recently I heard a school principal on assembly tell primary school aged children when discussing social media, “before you write ask yourself if you would like your principal to read it out on assembly?” this will probably hit the spot!
Make sure your kids know that wherever they go online, they leave traces behind. These traces can be followed and used as evidence in the future. They may feel as though no one can see them but this isn’t true.
Teens lack awareness of privacy issues and simply do not have the maturity to understand the long-term ramifications. Lots of adults struggle with this. Every day I hear of kids or teens posting inappropriate photos, videos and comments without fully understanding it may never go away. Every week I hear stories of businesses, employers and firms that when they receive an application firstly search for that person on social media to check out their profile and see if their online image is suitable for their business. I have done this myself. You can be rejected for a job on this basis alone.
Get your kids to take a break! I hear kids moaning that they have a two hour limit on social media-internet use. We all need to have a break, shut down and rest. When you are constantly connected it affect your brain, it stops the sleep hormone being released in your brain. It affects our ability to relax and unwind. An hour before bedtime there should be a total ban on electronic devices for restful sleep. New research has showed that even if you follow this rule, but have used electronics a large amount during the day your brain will still find it difficult to release the right hormones and chemicals it needs to relax and wind down.
In your family work out some ‘no social media’ times, it should include dinner time, when other friends are over, it may even be a Sunday morning ban. It definitely needs to have an end time for the night where devices are banked and charged in the lounge room. Even if you are not on it during the night, there will be endless messages from others and the lights even in your room affect your sleep. Sleep is essential to mood and behaviour so don’t start the day with an overtired teen. Try this yourself too!