Today, social media is the cornerstore of teen meetups. Kids no longer need to go anywhere to connect socially. They can sit in their rooms on their smartphones (don’t even try to tell me your kid doesn’t have a smartphone) and hang out just like they were all in the same room.
Except, they aren’t. They are from all over the city, the country and—quite possibly!—the world.
When you meet people face to face, you generally get a sense of who they are and what they’re all about. Social media takes that “sixth sense” away from us. It allows people to sit behind a keyboard and be whoever they want. Our kids make split-second decisions using social media and, sometimes, those decisions aren’t the best ones.
Here are 3 warning signs you need to look out for:
1. A sudden lack of posts.
If your kid is an avid social media consumer and suddenly stops posting on his/her page altogether, that’s a warning sign. Either something is going on behind the scenes that is causing him/her to stop posting, or he/she is FILTERING what you are getting to see as a parent. Yikes!
2. A refusal to hand over the phone.
I’m not talking about giving your kid reasonable privacy. I’m talking about absolute terror if you ask to have a look at the phone and its contents. When my kids were given smartphones, the first rule was that they had to hand their phone over at any moment if asked. (I also required them to have their passwords written down and sealed into an envelope, so I had access in case of emergency.)
3. A frequent change in usernames.
Social media is about conversing with others and when kids are constantly changing their usernames or account names, something is up. He/she is either trying to hide something or hide from someone.
The pain and the wonder of social media is that you can say you are anyone—ANYONE at all! From a teenage girl in high school to a college-aged boy studying physics. You can hide behind a screen and never ever reveal who you really are.
Social media is an incredible tool for connection. As a parent, being aware is one of the most important jobs you have raising a teen in this digital age.