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Parents need to take responsibility

 

I’m fed up of hearing people complaining about kids and Social Media saying things like ‘God it’s dreadful what goes on, my little ‘insert name’ would never get involved in any of that carry on’!! Or ‘God I know nothing about computers, my ‘insert name’ is much better at that kind of thing’!! If I’d a euro for every time I heard a parent say that to me, I’d be a wealthy woman.

We are living in a digital age, all of us, not just our children. We can’t shy away from this anymore. We need to start taking responsibility for our children’s Internet use and we can’t hide behind a veil of ignorance anymore. If our teen is starting to use Snapchat, it’s important that you as a parent understand how it works so that you can have an educated conversation with them about their use of that particular Social Network. If you’re concerned that your child might be experiencing cyber bullying then you must find out what you can do to help them. We cannot assume our children are sensible and won’t get themselves involved in such things. Although the Internet brings incredible educational opportunities, it’s a big bad world out there and in the same way we wouldn’t dream of letting them venture out at night without fully understanding where they are going, what they’ll be doing there and who they’ll be doing it with, we need to apply the same parenting principles online.

I know from experience that parents are scared of the online world. They feel that they don’t have the technical skills to ‘keep up’ with their teens. Trust me, you don’t need to be technical, you just need to be inquisitive and open-minded. If your teen is on Facebook and you don’t know the first thing about it, find out about it. This doesn’t mean that you have to start using the social media platform yourself but you do need to understand how it works. Get someone to show, google it, look on this website for information or even better, ask your teen to sit down and explain how it works to you. That way, you can talk to them about it, and their use of it.

As parents it’s essential that we talk to our children about what they could (and probably will) see online, so that they can process it and work out what’s real and what’s not.┬áThere was a truly dreadful case in the papers today about a twelve year old boy who assaulted his sister after he watched dreadfully inappropriate material on his xbox. Where were his parents? Did they know that he was able to get online with his games console? It’s time that we parents stepped up and took responsibility for our own children. Don’t assume that someone else will talk to them about this!

 

Rant over! What are your thoughts about this?

Debbie Woodward

Debbie is a FETAC qualified trainer and delivers Social Media training for the Sligo County Enterprise Board in Ireland. Debbie also delivers talks on Internet Safety to parents and students in schools and also teachers in education centres. You can find Debbie on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

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