Today, social media changes at a rapid pace. One moment a certain platform is really popular, in another, it falls into obscurity.
While some parents remain resistant to exploring social media, their children are digital natives, who are expertly navigating the various online platforms. Millennials are making their own rules, and parents are being left behind.
There are a number of reasons that parents share for being resistant. But are these justifiable reasons, or just excuses to avoid the inevitable change that every generation needs to tackle head-on?
Parents are scared of change
Some adults tend to view change negatively. We prefer the comfort of routine and seldom strive to challenge the ‘status quo’. However, is that what our 13-year old self would do? Importantly, is that what we want our children to adopt as their standard position?
Of course not!
According to Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, “Media culture exaggerates this dynamic, magnifying anxieties and reinforcing fears. For adults to hear the voices of youth, they must let go of their nostalgia and suspend their fears. This is not easy.”
Change can be good and takes time. Schools can be more active in helping parents to understand that effective use of social media can enhance academic and social development. Admittedly, some schools have focused on ‘online safety’ talks. However, a more personalised approach is required in fully understanding the impact of social media on students.
Parents do not have the time
Millennials are an on-demand generation. They are very visual consumers of information. A child under the age of 12 has never known a world without Facebook. Parents have had to adjust to this huge shift in managing their already busy lives. Parenting requires preparing our children for ‘real world’ experiences. This doesn’t mean that we need to be active on every social media channel our child is on. We however, need to make the time to understand it.
The platform does not make sense
The doubling of computer processing speed every 18 months, known as Moore’s Law, is making devices smaller and more powerful. With new platforms popping up everyday, the entire process can become incredibly overwhelming. It can create a feeling of hopelessness in parents who are trying to learn, adapt and succeed with their smart devices let alone new social media platforms!
‘Millennials don’t try to analyse how things are different because of technology; they simply try to relate to a public world in which technology is a given. Because of their social position, what’s novel for teens is not the technology but the public life that it enables.’ – Danah Boyd
Parents are not interested
Yes, parents do lead busy lives, but they also need to take an active interest in their children’s online activities. Let your children teach you about Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Periscope and Vine. This is a good way to learn what their interests are and to bolster your relationship with them. Help them to understand privacy issues, dealing with Internet trolls and being responsible online users.
It is time for parents to stop making excuses about why they resist social media. The world has changed. We have to keep pace with the changes in technology and what our children are consuming online.
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By Simon Noakes
Simon is the CEO and Founder of Interactive Schools. A father of 4, he founded Interactive Schools in 2006. He utilises his experience and passion for strategic marketing, thought leadership, social media, brand values, technology and innovative thinking to assist schools in telling their unique #SchoolStories.