I’m putting the finishing touches on my UWA Extension course on “Safe Social Networking: Family-Friendly Facebook and More”. These resources and links are useful ones for parents to read if they’re concerned about what their teenagers (and tweens!) are doing online.
Teenagers on the internet: Parents need to be involved: says everything I want to say. Don’t be scared of social media, get involved! If your children are interested in it, share their interest! Along with realistic warnings, this article includes some positives that come out of social media:
• By being friends with people online, we can maintain a more constant dialogue with people, and have people who would not otherwise be so, as a positive psychological presence in our lives.
• Access to social media can aid in social activism (help to support or create a cause)
• Social networks allow you to share important information in a fast and reliable way
• Social networking can allow you to become a more active part of the social discourse
• And last but not least, if you involved in social media you have the opportunity to share in the social zeitgest of the day.
How do teens use social media: a lot of info and stats on teenagers and their use of social media sites (especially Facebook), but for me the most interesting point is this:
While we assume that this audience are comfortable with sharing their entire lives online, they’re developing a sense of intelligence around this that shows how keenly aware they are of the consequences of this. A study referenced by Pew finds that that 18-29 year olds regularly control their online reputations by deleting certain posts or removing tags in photos. This is an incredibly interesting development in human and social behaviour – that this future generation have such a keen understanding of personal branding, even though they may not be calling it that.
So one of our big fears for young people – that they’re “messing up their lives” by putting everything online – might well be unfounded.
Teenage social media butterflies may not be such a bad idea: research published in the LA Times; worth a read, and the key message is that kids who are sociable online are just as sociable offline – they’re not turning into strange hermits just by spending hours on Facebook or MySpace!