Nancy Smith’s 81-year-old mother is on social media. I guess you could say it runs in the family. Smith, who spent 12 years working in social media and digital marketing, is now guiding both her son and her mom through the complex online world…in a positive way.
In her book, Social Citizens: A Positive Approach to Social Media and Parenting in a Digital World, author Nancy Smith offers an informative and helpful guide for parents. I think this book is ideal for those with tweens who are just starting to venture into the digital world.
After working with big name brands and famous You Tube stars, Smith knows all too well how important online connections can be….and when it’s done smartly and safely it can be fun, entertaining and informative.
She believes our kids are doing just that – connecting with friends, improving their communication skills, honing their creativity and increasing their knowledge. So, when my daughter watches her favorite You Tube vloggers, The Bucket List Family, and follows their adventures around the world, she is learning about cool places like the Maldives and Bora Bora. Yes, there are issues like online bullying, sexting and inappropriate content and we need to be aware of these things. One whole chapter is dedicated to teaching your child how to “play it safe.” But, most of the time, our kids are just kind of hanging out online sharing photos, funny memes or playing games.
She encourages us to think back to when we were kids. What did we do after school? My friends and I watched soap operas and talked on the phone for hours. I’m sure our parents thought that was a colossal waste of time too! Our kids aren’t much different.
I often hear parents with young kids they’re “never” letting their kids on social media and they’re going to keep them away from phones for as long as they can. I think that approach is a bit unrealistic and naive. Social media is here to stay. Smith isn’t downplaying the risks that exist in the digital world, but she is trying to shift parents’ focus from fear to knowledge.
She’s not a fan of those tracking apps that monitor your teenager’s every move online. It’s up to us to teach them the responsible way to use social media, which isn’t that different than what we tell them in other aspects of their life – be honest, show kindness, empathy, ask questions and think critically about what you’re seeing.
For those of us who aren’t too social media savvy, Smith offers us some good news – we don’t need to be experts. But, we should try to stay current and keep open lines of communication with our teens about what apps they’re using, what they’re seeing and how that’s making them feel.
Her key areas to focus on are:
- time – the amount of time your child is spending online
- place – encourage devices to be used in open areas; not in bedrooms
- content – glance over their shoulder every so often, talk about what they’re seeing, set limits on what’s not appropriate
I like Nancy’s approach – she calls it the 80/20 rule. Let’s spend 80 percent of our time helping our kids navigate social media and 20 percent of our time worrying about the “what ifs” and worst case scenarios. Smith’s perspective is a far more balanced approach on the topic than I’ve seen thus far.
Thanks to Nancy, I’m giving away two copies of her book. Please comment below or in my Facebook group with a positive interaction your teen has had on social media or in the digital world. If your child isn’t on social media yet, give me your thoughts on the subject.
Giveaway is only open to Canadians. I’ll select two random winners on February 16. Good luck!