My first foray into social media came with the advent of MySpace. It was pretty simple, really; you post some random thoughts, some low-resolution photos and chuckle at the end result.
Not surprisingly, there was also a huge outburst of concern over how predators could track down our kids.
Almost as quickly as MySpace appeared, it disappeared, to be replaced by Facebook and Twitter — and later, by Snapchat and other social media platforms.
However, the immediate concern over guarding our privacy quickly waned as we were able to share cool photos, espouse our political views and take surveys determining “What Disney character were you in a previous life?”
In other words, many people let down their guard.
Just this morning, I saw a good friend of mine discuss the vacation they are currently enjoying. Out of the country. And they will be back on such and such date. (While you’re at it, you might as well tell the burglars you keep your spare house key under the welcome mat of your side door).
You see, reasonable, intelligent people reveal too much on social media. Sometimes, it’s about when their house is empty for vacations. Other times, people gripe about their boss or explain in too much detail exactly how many questionable choices they made over the weekend.
As adults, it’s up to us to set an example for our kids of how to behave on social media. There’s a time and a place to share some items, but often, it’s done in all the wrong places.
Adults, make smarter choices
In a time where becoming ‘unfiltered’ is rather prevalent, it’s important we work to take back our digital world. Here are a few ways we can do that:
- Don’t pick a fight. You won’t change someone’s mind over their post, so careful how you phrase your response (even to things you know are morally or factually wrong).
- Avoid passive aggressive commentary. “I suppose if you were raised in a barn, that might be how you’ve come to this conclusion.” Don’t do that.
- Take the high road. If someone challenges you, don’t roll around in the mud battling them. Speak your mind, be dignified and move on.
- Act like your kids are reading your every word. You do want to set a great example, don’t you.
See, kids learn many of their behaviors from us. And because many people are emboldened through the use of a keyboard, they say things they might not ever actually do in the real world. But to kids, online perception is reality.
If you want your kids to represent themselves appropriately in a digital world, it’s up to us parents to set a good example.
Rick Schulte is the Communications and Marketing Specialist for New Morning School, Plymouth. He can be reached at email@example.com.