“The Talk”

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I just had “The Talk” with my kids.

It started like this:

“Boys, when I need to hire someone do you know what one of the first things is I do?”

Nope, they had no idea.

“I google them,” I said. “I see what they post on Facebook, Twitter, blogs. If they have posted anything that is calling someone else down, is sexually inappropriate, or if they’ve made blatantly disrespectful comments on other people’s postings, I would tend not to hire that person.”

Social media is a relatively new invention. Young kids now are posting things on the internet that will follow them into their adult life —>for the first time in history, creating a permanent personal digital identity. This is the first generation creating that type of history, and without being aware, kids can be damaging their future unintentionally.

So far, my boys only foray onto social media is Instagram. It is a starting point, and I am allowing them to learn as they go. So tonight, I asked my son to come sit with me and show me what he has posted so far (yes, I look at it regularly, but I wanted to encourage discussion.)

Among the mostly silly pictures, there were a few I would consider inappropriate (mostly for language). I asked him about them and he said, “Mom, I like to post things that make people laugh.”

Yup, that’s good, I said. So I asked him what kind of job he wanted to do when he grew up, and he said a musician. So, I told him to picture the future scenario of a man who had to choose between him and another musician to come entertain his guests. If the man googled Noah Oleksyn, what would he see? It would be terrible to not get that job, or the next one because of some dumb stuff you posted when you were a kid right? I repeated a similar conversation with my other son, substituting “Fifa Soccer player” for musician. What I heard from both of them is that they hadn’t thought of that at all.

I think as parents we need to do three things for our kids:

  • Be aware of what our children are doing on the internet
  • Be on sites with them and teach as they go.
  • Be examples with our own digital identity.

I love this post shared by Royan Lee. Great questions for all of us to keep in mind.

Kids using social media and posting content on the internet without any sort of direction is like dropping them off at a grocery store and saying, “Choose some food.”

Without some education on healthy eating and good choices, mine would definitely come out with a bag of chips and a case of pop.

We teach our children how to talk in a respectful manner, how to keep healthy, be kind, have manners and a myriad of other things throughout the time they are entrusted to our care. Today, becoming literate digitally is just as important as learning to read and write. We need to be alongside our children in this new area that encompasses so many aspects of their life. Social media and interaction on the internet is not going anywhere, and as with talking about sex or drugs, our conversations need to be continuous as they grow up in the digital world.

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