Socially inept: Why social media minus parents is dangerous for kids

11/08/15 by Rennie Detore

A recent story of a mom posing as her son on Facebook brought to light the dangers of social media as a whole for kids and young adults, and this one was especially chilling given that the mom thwarted a potential interaction with an online predator.
This occurred in Greensburg, Indiana, as a mom informed the authorities of a message to her 17 year old son from a online stranger that eventually led to finding a 40 year old who was taken in by police to be questioned after he propositioned the underaged child.
The mom should be lauded for her proactive approach to social media and exactly who is messaging her child.

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But are all parents this dialed in to what their kids are doing online?
And that question goes far beyond just an online, potential sexual, predator asking to meet up or talk to children. This also includes kids who are being bullied, ridiculed, and harassed online as well.
While the simple answer is to simply ban your kids from social media (which is certainly an avenue), the more realistic approach to not owning a computer is more about staying close to what your kids are doing when they come home from school and find their way to their tablets, computers or other devices, including cell phones.
The real problem with social media and the internet as a whole is it is so easy to use it without the parents or guardians knowing any better. That's why the need to ask questions and for parents not to be afraid or feel like they're bothering or over parenting their kids.
This also includes monitoring how long they are using social media but also having access to their passwords or asking their kids to show them what they're doing or view the Twitter, Facebook or Instagram page occasionally almost as an audit of sorts.
Being part of the social media process as a parent lets kids know not so much that they're being watched per say but that there is a certain level of concern. Parents need to address social media as a real concern and not something flippant that kids can "get into" online as more entertainment than substance with real potential for harm.
Far too often, social media is disregarded as being more kids being kids, and parents putting faith in their kids to make the right decisions or be able to spot something that doesn't seem right. While that isn't a bad thing, that doesn't relieve mom and dad from having that discussion with their kids that, while they trust what their son or daughter is doing, you can easily be manipulated or misled, particularly if you're a younger child that has access to the internet.
In the end, parents have to parent in this situation and not chalk up social media and all that goes on with it, as a product of our times that has to be dealt with in a reactive basis. The proactive parent is the one with the positive story to tell, much like this mom from Indiana who stepped in at the most opportune time with eyes wide open when it comes to social media.

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