Hello Rock Stars!
As many of you know, last night I attended a Parent Workshop on Social Media, which was presented at Keith Valley Middle School by Deborah McCoy, who is a social media expert. Here’s what I learned and took away from the experience.
The entire Power Point presentation can be found on the Keith Valley website through http://www.hatboro-horsham.org/cms/lib2/PA01000027/Centricity/Domain/415/Parent%20Digital%20Speech%20Presentation%20April%202016.pdf. At the bottom of the post, I have copied the pages of the handout from last night, which beautifully describes each app and its uses.
What was also discussed, were the sites commonsense media.org, and safesmartsocial.com. Both of these sites are EXCELLENT resources for parents trying to figure out both information about an app, and they offer useful guidance for determining age appropriateness as well. I particularly like Common Sense Media because they also have an app, which I use religiously to type in movie, book, show, video game, or app titles that my kids ask about. What immediately pops up is a fantastic graphic, which rates each title based on age, violence, sex, drug use, etc. Please keep in mind that these are only GUIDES for parents. ONLY YOU can make the right choice for your child. YOU are the one who knows your child the best and what works.
Both as a parent and as a family therapist, I too have struggled to figure out the rules, value, and necessity of social media. On a personal level, I am generally a fan of social media and enjoy using it to write, blog, advertise, and also as a means to stay connected and in touch. Especially since so much of my work is done at home. I feel pretty savvy and knowledgeable when it comes to social media, but as you all know, that world’s landscape is ever evolving, changing, and expanding. In years past, we worried about MySpace, Facebook, and secret chat rooms. Now, we have Instagram, Snapchat, and MANY new, unfamiliar, and often secret social media apps that we have to not only try to understand, but also make decisions about whether they are okay for our children.
With that said, here are a few things I learned last night!
There are 4 basic rules to social media:
It is searchable anytime, anywhere, forever.
It is permanent.
It is copyable and able to be changed or altered.
It has a global audience.
The presenter went on to share a story of a teacher she met who was driving home on 95 one day and passed a billboard advertising a travel agency. She then saw that one of the pictures in that advertisement was actually of her family on vacation. With her in a bikini. After two weeks of investigating, she determined that it was an image that her daughter had posted on Instagram, which was then sold by Instagram to an advertising company. She also found out that it was perfectly legal.
Nothing on social media belongs to you.
One thing in particular that struck me was the presenter sharing her own experience that at the middle school assemblies she’s done, the majority of kids she speaks to think they have some kind of right to privacy. They truly don’t believe that their parents should be able to investigate or look through what they are doing on their phones. One child in particular claimed it was his First Amendment right.
Every social media outlet has a user’s agreement which pops up and has you check off when you sign up. Have YOU ever read the user’s agreement? I haven’t. It basically says that while the information you post belongs to you, they have the right to sell it, and basically they own it. WOW. Why is it that something I pretty much knew or assumed is so much more disturbing when it’s spelled out to me like this? Hmmm…maybe that’s an approach I can take with my kids.
Both college admissions and human resource offices subscribe to what’s called an ARCHIVE SERVICE.
This means that there are archive services which spend 24 hours a day scanning all of these social media outlets for information. They save it and store it. Then, the college admissions office or HR will contact the archive service, with whom they have a subscription or contract, and the service gives them any information pertaining to a particular person. Two questions that the offices are looking to have answered: Do we want this kid here? and Will this kid be a problem?
Social media is an opportunity for colleges, groups, companies and organizations to meet you before you meet them. They are then entitled to form any judgements or opinions of you based on that. The presenter also added that many feel the social media profile of a young adult is a more authentic representation of who they are than their interview or college essay.
Most kids on social media are NOT developmentally capable of making the connection between what they do now and how that may impact their future opportunities. Our job is to help them navigate and understand that.
Sexting, Cyberbullying, and Vault or Ghost Apps are creating big problems in middle school.
Many kids in middle school have vault or ghost apps on their phone that look and appear like regular apps. For example calculator, which is NOT the basic iOS calculator that comes with the phone, is actually a means for storing and hiding secret and often inappropriate or nude pictures on the phone that do not show up on the photo album. With that, sexting, which involves sharing a picture of a private body part, is a misdemeanor for kids ages 12-17. Surprisingly, a young girl sharing a picture of herself in her bra and panties is NOT considered sexting. I have sadly seen that occur more than I’d like while scrolling through my son’s Instagram. Cyberbullying as well can lead to an arrest if the authorities are able to identify the source of the texts, pictures, or app. The good news is, according to the experts last night, things seem to calm down once kids get to high school.
Folks, this information here is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other apps that I’ve seen and had experience with that are just as questionable. Some of those include Musically, Brighten, and Fanfare. Here’s my two cents on this for now: If you can’t monitor it, understand it, or have time for it, TELL THEM NO! So many parents are falling into the trap of saying YES to these apps before fully understanding all of what’s involved. Just because you might be able to trust your child DOES NOT mean he or she can handle all that social media involves.
I will for sure be following up with some more specific strategies we as parents can use to become both better educated AND more capable of structuring all of this for ourselves and our kids.