Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumbler, Snapchat, YouTube, WHAT?! Social media platforms are growing and emerging at a tremendous pace and let’s be honest: we’re constantly on our smartphones. I know I’m guilty of Instagramming or Facebooking while #dailybocaavery is playing on the playground. And she definitely sees me at home scrolling through my Twitter feed while I’m having my coffee each morning.
We reached out to Emma DeStefano, Director of Character Education at Grandview Preparatory School, to give us parents some guidance on this hot topic.
When it comes to kids and Social Media, how and at what age do you recommend introducing it?
The minimum age to open an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumbler, and Snapchat is 13 years old. YouTube requires account holders to be 18, but with parent permission, a 13-year-old can sign up.
Is your 13-year-old ready for social media? Maybe, but only you can be the judge of that. You may be thinking that your Boca kid knows way more about the internet than you do, and kids these days are pretty tech-savvy, but that does not necessarily mean that their brains are developing at the same rate as their digital intelligence.
Prior to age 12, children may not be able to fully engage in ethical thinking, and in turn, can not fully grasp the impact of their actions towards others, whether online or in person.
When you feel that your child is ready and can handle the responsibility of social media:
- Create the account and set privacy settings together.
- Explain the pros and cons of kids and social media.
- Review why it is so important to not share personal information, especially a full name, address, or phone number. As much as it may make your pre-teen cringe, holding their hand as they start to navigate the world of social media can save both of you hours– or even days– of damage control.
Social Media is such a big part of life and business these days. Is it being integrated into curriculum at schools?
At Grandview Preparatory School, we are able to integrate social media through a focused digital citizenship curriculum and by providing safe opportunities for practice.
Students in our lower school use Pinterest (with teacher and parent oversight) to pin ideas and create boards for school projects. Middle school students take a course on computer literacy and digital citizenship, and upper school students have the opportunity to utilize social media for many of their courses through the creation of blogs or Facebook groups to facilitate online discussion, through projects that require social media use, and through an elective course on cyber security.
Upper school students also have the opportunity to utilize Instagram by taking over the Grandview Instagram account (@GrandviewPrepFL) and using hashtags to post pictures of our students and school activities
Does Grandview Prep have a school policy for Social Media use for students?
Yes! With the proliferation and ease of accessibility of social media, many schools now have social media policies.
Our policy stresses the importance of understanding the responsibility that accompanies the use of social media as students in school and in the community beyond our campus.
It encourages the use of caution when when participating in any form of social media or online communications, both within the Grandview community and beyond. While Grandview respects the right of students to utilize the variety of social media options available, as we believe that they can be a useful tool and resource in some respect, we do require that students who participate in online interactions remember that their posts reflect on our entire school community and, as such, are subject to behavioral standards.
Students are held accountable for misuse of social networking as it pertains to students in the Grandview community, whether on or off campus.
How can parents help teach their kids to use Social Media responsibly?
Open communication with your child is key. Conversations about social media and internet responsibility should be just that, a conversation– not a lecture.
Ask your children what their thoughts are on using social media responsibly. Don’t wait until your child is a teenager to start this discussion about internet responsibility and kids and social media.
Children see you using the internet every day; take this opportunity to talk about how you use the internet and social media. Talk about how your try to use kind words, how you read what you write twice (or even three times!) before sending, and if you have second thoughts about something you are going to send or post, you have a second person take a look at it.
Kids and Social Media
As a parent, communicate with your child that the ramifications of using social media irresponsibly can have a serious impact on their future. The temptation to hide behind a keyboard is always looming/ It’s never too early to remind your child that if they would not say it face-to-face, then they should not post it on social media.
Social media can be a wonderful tool that connects friends, fosters ideas, and promotes positive communication. Through an active, open dialogue with your child, you can help to ensure that your child’s social media use remains positive, and you can help them navigate through tough social and emotional situations online.
Mrs. DeStefano is the Director of Character Education at Grandview Preparatory School. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness with a concentration in Adult Fitness and Social Issues and a Master of Science in Student Personnel Administration with a concentration in counseling, both from Buffalo State University in New York.
Mrs. DeStefano has over a decade of experience in independent schools developing health and wellness curriculum, teaching, coaching, counseling, and advising, beginning at Nichols School, an elite private school in New York, and continuing at Grandview Preparatory School after relocating to Florida in 2011.
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