Is your child crying out for help online?
Social media isn’t just a vortex where people scroll endlessly, post selfies and look for inspiration. The world of social media can be a dark place … and there’s a chance that parents can miss vital cues that give insight into the lives of children.
Simply put, the act of listening is a lost art in the world of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and beyond. Instead, it’s showing and telling. What happens if those who are telling — and need help — aren’t seen? It’s happening all of the time.
Almost two decades ago, Columbine happened. The boys posted what they were going to do. We have shootings as recent as six months ago and the shooters post online.
Yet, participants in social media seemingly miss these warnings.
But, those violent and tragic events aren’t the only things we aren’t listening to.
According to the Jason Foundation, four out of five teens who attempt suicide give clear warning signs and one in 10 youth suffer from mental illness that are serious enough to be noticeable, but less than 20 percent are treated.
Let that sink in.
So, how can parents become more aware of what’s going on online? By listening.
When you’re teaching kids about how to make better decisions online and monitoring social media habits, tap into a more business mindset. Teach your children how to listen to each other online and start building strong relationships with others, both online and off.
How can parents make their children’s online experience safer?
Trust between parents and children is incredibly important, but when it comes to your children’s safety, verify what they are doing online. Follow your kids actions — if you allow platforms and apps, let them know you plan to follow them, too. Follow their friends, sometimes the information friends provide is incredibly important to know and helps you understand what is going on with your children. Also, talk to your service provider. There is software that can either block or record activity and report to you on your children’s online activity, but this doesn’t educate your children on the why or how to make better decisions. Most service providers have platform programs as well but they aren’t typically advertising this effectively.
3 tips to be a better listener to what children are posting online
1. Trust your instinct. If you read or see something that your children or someone else posts that makes you feel uncomfortable, contact them or someone they know to check in and make sure everything is ok.
2. Monitor what your kids are writing on social media. Kids vent online and share their emotional side of feelings in real time. If you see consistent messages of sadness, anger or other warning signs, consider this an opportunity to reach out and have a conversation with them or, when serious, seek outside help.
3. Check in with your kids and their friends often. Pay attention to what platforms they use and why they use it. Often kids are following trends and can get in over their heads faster than they realize.
Do you want tools to help protect your children online. Learn more about our Home Program for parents today.