As parents we struggle with choices that affect our kids every day. There is a fine line between protecting them and smothering them, between allowing them to explore their independence and individuality and stifling their freedom. You know those questions you ask yourself:
- Are they old enough to walk to school by themselves?
- Should I let him watch that show?
- What is the right age to allow my daughter to walk around the mall by herself?
And now, social media presents a whole new set of questions for us parents:
- Is my child mature enough for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.?
- What if they are cyber bullied? Will they know what to do?
- Am I opening another can of worms for my child socially?
However, like anything else, social media has its positive points. In fact, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune, teachers of even very young students are starting to use social media to enhance their curriculum.
A recent Mashable article notes that a seventh grade teacher from Portland, Oregon, found that grades had gone up by more than 50 percent and chronic absenteeism was reduced by more than a third when she incorporated a social media program into the curriculum.
I also have a personal example of how social media can provide a positive experience for your child. My 14-year old daughter, Dani, and her friends became familiar with a foundation called Max Cure through Everloop.com, the leading kids social media site that I founded with three other moms.
On Everloop we have a program called EverGive in which we educate kids on various charitable organizations and encourage them to take action to support their favorite charities. In becoming familiar with Max Cure’s mission to fund research of rare pediatric cancers, improve treatments and find cures, my daughter and her friends put their heads together to figure out how to help Max Cure help young cancer victims.
This team of teens contacted Oakland Children’s Hospital in Oakland on their own and asked if they had pediatric cancer patients that would benefit from Max Cure. Seven months later these teens had facilitated the introduction and partnership of Oakland Children’s Hospital and the Max Cure Foundation, and presented a check to Max Cure founder Dave Plotkin for more than $2,000 they had raised through various events and efforts.
These are just a few examples of how the cyber world can have a positive impact on the real world. Of course, we must still abide by the same parental precautions. Make sure your children are on a social media site that is age appropriate, COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) compliant, incorporates moderation to protect against bullying and provides a positive experience.
See you next time…