While it’s incredibly important to talk about the dangers and risks of being online with your children, it’s also important to show them the positives of social media. When parents show their children the positives of social media, their kids begin to develop healthy screen time habits and start making wiser decisions.
When going through the college or job application process, applicants are expected to have a positive digital footprint that matches their resume. If your teen waits until they are applying to college or their first job to start using social media in a positive way, it could be too late! Instead, we recommend that parents start talking to their kids about the negatives and the positives of social media from a young age.
So, we asked 5 experts to share the positives of social media and tips for how kids can stay safe while having fun online.
1. Social media can help students feel empowered to teach others
Jordana Hargreaves, High Speed Training
Teachers should involve their students directly in any lessons about social media, the internet, and safety while using it. So, we suggest that teachers let students get creative and make eye-catching posters or informative guides about social media safety for younger students. This way, the learning is 3-fold; the students are learning creative skills through whichever medium they’re using to create the safety resource; they’re learning about the safety aspects of social media by engaging with it and having to translate it for other students, and they’re working collaboratively on a project.
2. Social media can become an extension of your student’s resume
Josh Ochs, SmartSocial.com
Social media can either help or hurt your child’s college and career opportunities. When used wisely, social media can become an extension of your student’s resume. Challenge your children to find unique ways to use their social media profiles to tell their college admissions story.
When you’re ready, encourage your children to create posts that teach people something they are passionate about, highlight a volunteering experience they had, talk about their achievements in a humble and grateful way, or showcase their talents. Then, your children can post that content across their social media profiles like Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook. So when a college admissions officer looks them up online they get a positive representation of your child that matches their college and career aspirations.
3. Students can highlight their positivity and character
Hector Perez, Mumablue
It’s never too early to start creating a strong personal brand. In today’s job market, employers are looking at personal profiles, and the best way to catch their attention is to make your professional profiles a great exhibition of your character and professionalism. Also, if you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s a good idea to use the power of social media to find groups of like-minded individuals, mentors, and join a community who will be a great ally whenever you start your venture.
4. Social media can bring students together to collaborate on class projects
Dylan Myatt, Advice Media
For teenagers, it can feel like social media gets a bad rap because it’s easy to blame a new variable that people don’t completely understand.
Social media makes it a lot easier for students to help each other out in hard classes, such as making a group in Facebook or in Snapchat and then making time to meet up or asking people how to do specific problems. That social collaboration can bring students closer to their peers while helping them do better in class.
5. Social media can help build connections with distant family members
Mei Ellis, Online Optimism
Social media is a tool like any other–how you use it is ultimately up to you, but there is so much potential for forging new connections with students. For instance:
Social media can bring together students with the same interests and hobbies with other creators and thinkers from around the world. By connecting through social media, students with common interests can connect by exchanging ideas, bonding over their shared appreciation for a given work or pastime, and communicating at a more immediate level than has ever been available at any prior point in history. When students have a solid grasp on the fundamentals of social media safety, these social connections can be positive.
For kids, long-distance relationships, whether it’s with traveling parents or relatives they rarely see, can be sustained more easily with social media. Think: using group chats on WhatsApp to virtually reunite families scattered around the world or letting your child video-chat using your Facebook with out of town relatives. Social media needn’t be the enemy of connection; it is a bridge, not a barrier.
When used wisely, the positives of social media can be incredibly beneficial for students (especially during the college or job application process). While it’s important for parents to talk about the dangers and risks of being online, it’s also important for kids to understand the positives of social media. When kids understand the negatives and positives of social media – and regularly talk to their parents about them – they will be better equipped to use social media wisely.
How do you talk to your kids about the positives of social media? Let us know in the comments below!