Many parents today, especially those with teenagers, worry about the effect that social media will have on their children. As an adult, unless you live deep in the wilderness where internet is only a myth, you have had some type of experience with setting up and using a Facebook account, Instagram or Twitter account. You know that social media is a great way to stay up to date on the latest trends, gossip and news from friends and family and the latest events happening around the world. Sure, negative things including cyber-bullying occurs online and many teens even utilize the internet to join groups specifically that target those being bullied. As a parent however, you can still supervise even a teen when they go online and open a social media account.
Did you know that social media is far less invasive in your teens life than a five-minute walk between classes at their high school is? If you are worried about the things your teen may say during an online chat session, then what you really need to admit is that you do not trust your teen to have friends at all or socialize in person. After all, most teenagers are not going to suddenly undergo a total transformation with the things they say online as opposed to the things they would say in person. The truth is, if your teen is a flirt online, they flirt in the real world. If they bully someone online, they are going to be a bully in real life as well.
Many parents refuse to allow their teenagers to utilize social media platforms including Facebook because they themselves have had issues. Whether they have argued with others online or had to deal with members of the opposite sex hitting on them or even been the brunt of online bullying, a parent’s decisions concerning their teens ability to use social media often falls back to what the parent may have experienced themselves. Some just do not understand the whole format or how to have a social presence online at all and others just have no real communication skills whether online or in person. This may sound harsh, but it is the basis for many parents telling their teens they cannot open a Facebook account. In today’s internet capable society, there are actually quite a few legitimate reasons that teens should have, at the very least, a Facebook account.
This Is The Age For Facebook
Once your child hits that magical age, you know, 13, Facebook is more of a necessity than it is a privilege. If your teen has friends at school, you can be assured that their friends all have a Facebook page. Facebook is the way that teens today socialize, even when they are sitting right in front of each other. This is the computer age, and something that parents need to understand so they can stay on top of things. With just the right amount of parental supervision, Facebook is a great way for your child to develop at the same rate others are developing. Sure, when you were a teenager, kids developed by physical social interaction and speaking to their friends face to face or on the telephone. Today, social interaction happens through the internet.
Facebook Increases Social Skills
Kids need social skills and Facebook is the way to become more socially acceptable. When your teenager has a Facebook page, it not only opens up the door to develop new social skills for them, but as a parent who takes a little time to supervise their page, it opens up the door to let you in a little at a time to learn new social skills, teen slang and other interesting facts about your own child. Kids need an outlet and a way to vent to friends without running to their parents to discuss each and every thing that happens in their life. When your child was small, they ran to you when they had a problem.
Teenagers go to their friends and if you prevent them from having their social media account, you not only push them away from the trust they have in you, but you aid in preventing them from developing socially with their peers. They miss out on events and sometimes, even on school related work when students set up classroom groups via Facebook. Yes, while Facebook is a social platform, learning about school work is considered a social area as well. If you see your teen acting inappropriately online, use the situation to let them know that the things they say are not socially acceptable and help them to learn better ways to say things.
Facebook Has Educational Value
Have you ever had a teen that really could not stand to study once they got home? Does your teen have a typing class or do they have reports that need to be typed but they not so great with the placement of letters on the keyboard and they type slowly? While it may be difficult to see Facebook as a learning opportunity, every time your teen hops online and types a new post, comments on a post or sends a message to a friend, they are increasing their typing skills. As a parent, add your child as a friend to your own Facebook and send them chat messages so they can respond to you. This helps to increase not only typing skills, but vocabulary skills as well.
True Online Identity
Has your child ever been picked on at school? If so, that sort of thing extends into the virtual world as well. Many times parents have found a profile set up in their teens name and even using their pictures, but it is not their teen at all. Things like this lead to bullying not only online but unfortunately, in person. Anyone can set up an account and use someone else’s name and when it comes to your teen, the best thing to do is going to be to allow them to set their own account up so they can begin to set their own online identity.
Let’s say that someone bullies your teen and sets up a phony Facebook account that claims to be your child. They post numerous posts that will humiliate your child and cause a great deal of pain. As a parent, we all want to protect our children no matter what their age may be, but reporting a phony account to Facebook if your child is being harassed is not going to be an easy feat if they do not already have a Facebook page to show their true online identity. Letting your teen have their own Facebook account also reduces the risk that one of the bullies will even bother with setting up a phony page to begin with.
Everyone Needs Friends
If you have a Facebook account set up, you may have many of your closest friends and family on your page as well as numerous others that you really do not know at all outside of Facebook. This will be true for your teen as well and you will need to explain to them the dangers involved with adding people they do not know. Show them real news articles detailing things that can happen by trusting the wrong people online and how to stay safe by not giving out personal information. No matter what your child’s age however, having friends is a crucial part of their development and whether those friends are sitting right next to them physically or hundreds of miles away online, having a friend is a necessary life event.
When it comes to Facebook, it is easy for teens to make friends. Teens like to play games online and they enjoy sharing silly pictures and meeting new people. You will of course, want to monitor the pictures your teen posts but be reasonable with your actions when it comes to social media. Even having a cyber friend on Facebook helps a teen feel better about their life and gives the same happy feeling that having a friend in real life will give them. After all, Facebook friends are real people and sometimes, even those that live on the other side of the world can become some of the best friends your child may ever make.
While some parents will never understand the true value of allowing their teen to sign up for a Facebook account, it is really a crucial step today to beginning the ascent to adulthood. As the parent of a teenager, you may want to cling to your child and prevent them from aging because maybe you yourself are afraid of growing older. If we could only keep our children young forever, we could also stay young. Since we are not able to do this, the best thing to do is to begin, even if only a little at a time, to allow our children to grow and develop at the pace they are supposed to along with their peers. It is time to face it parents, Facebook is now part of that social develop and unfortunately for your sanity, it is not going away anytime soon.
When it comes to your teen having a Facebook account, what do you think about it? Do you believe they should have one or is this something you want to prevent for as long as possible?