Social networking sites have become an integral part of our lives and anyone with an Internet connection is likely to be active on many platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
With its ability to connect people instantaneously, social media can allow us to communicate with our friends and families much more easily. As parents, these new platforms can serve as a wonderful means to communicate with our children, and especially our teenage children who often seem more remote and harder to reach out to.
Used with understanding, social media allows us to become closer and to relate better to our children. Here are two ways in which social media can help us:
Stay in Touch Wherever You Are
Social media is often used to keep in touch with loved ones who live further away. Miles melt away when all it takes is just a few seconds on our phones or computers to bring us together. We can experience an exchange of regular updates with friends and family by sharing photos, videos and messages.
Understand Your Children Better
Many youths today find that they are more comfortable expressing themselves over social media than communicating face-to-face or over the phone. They turn to online channels to emote and talk about their real world relationships and experiences.
With proper guidance on the use of social media, we can come to understand our children better and in our efforts, bridge the generational gap to communicate more effectively with them. This will help to improve overall communication within the family, which will lead to a better understanding among family members and stronger family ties.
Tips for Parents
Brush up on the Lingo Your Children Use Online
Finding out more about online lingo without necessarily having to use it can help us to engage more effectively with our children.
Use the Power of “Optimised Time” that Social Media Gives You
When information is posted on a website or sent through chatrooms or mobile applications such as Whatsapp, the reader will be able to read messages at their own pace, which may make it easier for them to retain the information as they will not only be able to return to the message, but they will also be able to read it at a time when they are best able to give it their attention.
Realise that Social Media Allows You to Pause and Paraphrase before Responding
Often, we speak and react before we’ve had the time to think things through. On social media, we are able to think about what we want to say before typing out the message and sending it across. Taking the time to craft our messages instead of giving in a knee-jerk response allows us to be able to relate more to what our child is saying and show respect for his or her views.
Respect Your Children
Participating in their social networks allows us to be included in the activities of our children. However, it is also important to give and respect your child’s personal space online.
The social network is also a public space, and parents may sometimes forget this. Many parents don’t realize that shadowing, advising or reprimanding their child online is often obvious not only to the child, but also to all of his or her friends and acquaintances. This is especially painful if your child is a teenager and likely to feel sensitive about parental involvement.
As parents, we can avoid this common mistake if we behave as we normally would in a public forum. It is just as easy to find “private space” online as it is in the physical world. Simple send a private message to your child and follow up later with a personal discussion.