(This is part 2 in a 4 part series. If you missed the first part, you can read it here.)
Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it’s the secret to starting conversations with your kids about social media.
It’s on us as parents to take the initiative and create a space where our kids can openly talk about the way they are engaging in this wildly engaging technological phenomenon.
In the first post we learned to ask the question,
“How are you using social media right now?”
Today, we’re going to dive into question number two: What do your devices do?
When I was a kid, if I wanted to play Excite Bike on the Super Nintendo with my friend Dave Bruce, Dave Bruce had to come over to my house. In college, if I wanted to play Goldeneye on Nintendo 64, no one could be Oddjob that’s cheating, I had to have friends come to my dorm room. Now, if your kid wants to play Call of Duty with someone in Japan they can.
We live in the age of the connected device, but sometimes we parents forget that. We forget that you can play Minecraft with complete strangers. We forget that an iPod Touch might not be a phone but it can still be used for social media. We forget that even websites designed for kids might offer them access to email.
That was a wake up call for me. My daughters were using two sites that were about dolls. One site let them email other members of the site with pre-written messages like, “Have a good day!” or “Hooray for rainbows.” That’s harmless for an 8-year-old. But the other site let them write their own messages. Without me realizing it, my kids had received their first email address. I’d love to think that every other member of that website is a kid with the best of intentions in mind, but I’ve spent too much time online to trust that.
I didn’t know about that email address until I asked my kids a few questions.
In addition to having this conversation with your kids, you should also ask Google “What do my kids’ devices do?” Spend a little time researching to get a better sense of what’s really going on with the fun devices that your family has.
The days of playing Mike Tyson Punch Out alone in my living room are over. The colors of the ’80s might have made a comeback, but the isolated devices won’t. We live in the age of connectivity. Find out how your kids are connecting by connecting with them.
Jon Acuff is the New York Times Bestselling author of 4 books. He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife and two daughters. Read more of his work at Acuff.me, StuffChristiansLike.net, or follow him on Twitter @JonAcuff.