You don’t need an expert to tell you that you lived a different childhood than your kids do. You remember when you had to get up and turn the dial on the TV to change channels; your teen can’t understand how a world without Facebook or MySpace would even function.
You perceive everything differently than your child, and that includes the very nature of social networking.
As adults and non-Facebook natives, we naturally approach social networking with more caution and more discretion. We are well aware that it is a public activity. We parents are more likely to view Facebook as more of a billboard-type communication than a conversation with a friend. But do our kids?
Actually, the way tweens and teens see social networking is vastly different than the way we do. They have grown up with all kinds of ways to talk with their friends – texting, instant messaging, MySpace – and they don’t really differentiate between those ways and face-to-face conversations.
Of course most teens understand that technically, a Facebook conversation isn’t the same as having a private conversation. Even so, it probably doesn’t feel
different to your teen – and that’s why you must talk about never sharing any personal information over a social networking medium. And if you’ve already talked about it, talk about it again.
Kids don’t see social networking sites as a platform to broadcast themselves as much as they see it as an extension of everyday life and conversation. Once they let down their guard, they can become vulnerable to safety threats like identity theft or physical harm if they let their personal information slip.
MySpace and Facebook are how our tweens and teens talk to each other. It’s our job not to curb their use, but to help our kids make these social networking sites part of their lives in a safe and positive way.Jenny Evans is a mother of three and a freelance writer specializing in parenting, childhood, and family issues.