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“Uncool” Parenting Tips: Limit Your Kids’ Social Networking

When limiting social media, parents don't have to worry about their children's negative digital footprints.

Natalia Maverakis

When limiting social media, parents don't have to worry about their children's negative digital footprints.

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Opinion

Digital footprints are the new handshakes: what people see online sets the initial impression.

People “know” strangers without even meeting them. They learn their values, activities and friends through these technological windows and sometimes negative images distort these first impressions.

Parents need to be educated to monitor and/or limit their child’s social media networking in order to prevent kids early on from crippling their digital future.

As a child of a parent who denied them permission to create a Facebook or Twitter, I find that I have not missed latest “trends” nor am I left out of the social loop. The only things I miss are the meaningless arguments and drama.

Children will disagree with this position and whine, but in the long run, they won’t have to deal with the problems social networking causes, explain embarrassing pre-teen posts or hide silly photos.

Online drama and teenage tempers produce thoughtless slurs that harm not only the victim, but also offend audiences glimpsing over comment history. My friends have felt the brunt of horrendous blows to their esteem, and the offenders’ reputations are tainted as vile and cruel.

Overall, those nasty comments–or even those “sexy” images and wild nights–cut short job prospects and academic opportunity.

Reppler and Lab42 conducted a study of 300 individuals associated with the employment process and discovered that 69 percent of them have rejected an applicant due to content found on a social networking site, according to “Managing Your Online Image Across Social Networks” from The Reppler Effect.

The past no longer stays in the past. With camera phones and social networking, people publicize their private lives for the world to see. And one slip up crumbles years of positive work; one adolescent post weakens the foundations of a solid reputation.

Online lives now intertwine with reality, a fact most teenagers are ignorant of. “Adults tend to use the Web as a supplement to real–world activities while teenagers tend to ignore the difference between life online and [offline],” Susan B. Barnes said in “A Privacy Paradox: Social networking in the United States.”

“As soon as our kids show interest in technology, we should begin age-appropriate discussions about their activities and establish our expectations,” said Katie LeClerc Greer in  “The Tech Talk: It’s Never Too Early” on ikeepsafe.org. Children are only as wise as their education provides, leaving them in ignorance about the impact their actions is detrimental. “Developing responsible citizens occurs at the family level,” said Barnes.

However, true protection extends beyond simply educating kids; parents need to set limits.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. are all excellent forms of entertainment and procrastination, but they are not vital.

Don’t be afraid of being the “uncool” parent. Honestly, you won’t be inhibiting any social activities or friend-making. If your child is truly friends with their online friends, then they will supersede this boundary and find time to hang out with them in the real world.

So while you may be seen as the bad guy today, later on your child will unmask you as the digital-footprint superhero, the protectors of the first impressions.

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“Uncool” Parenting Tips: Limit Your Kids’ Social Networking