Recently, my daughter sent a social media post to a relatively small group of friends. She assumed they would be the only people to see it, but one of her friends took a screenshot and sent it out to another group. It didn’t take long until almost everyone in her school had seen it. Luckily, it wasn’t anything damaging. It was just a little embarrassing.
Too often, our kids don’t think before they post. So they post a thought they think is funny or a photo or video they feel good about or a reaction to an issue. Within seconds, the whole world can see what they’ve posted. Most of the time, this isn’t an issue—but we need to help them avoid making a damaging mistake. Here are 4 things to consider before posting on social media.
1. Who will read it?We need to be clear with our kids that there is no privacy on the internet.
Any time we post something, there is potential for that post to go viral. We need to be clear with our kids that there is no privacy on the internet. They need to know that all their friends, rivals, teachers, employers, siblings, parents, grandparents, boyfriends/girlfriends, and random people they may never meet can (and might) see everything they post.
2. How will others feel when they read it?
Before posting, our kids need to consider the people who may read the post or hear about it, not just those to whom they send it directly. Will the post embarrass anyone? Will it hurt someone’s feelings? Will it make someone feel picked on or excluded?
3. How does it represent them?
We live in a quick-to-judge society. When our kids post, they are sending out a digital representation of themselves. They need to realize that they will be judged based on their posts. When their posts include pictures or videos, they will be judged on superficial aspects of the posts including how they look, the clothes they wear, and the quality of the pictures or video. They’ll also be judged on their opinions about political and social issues as well as whether their posts are funny or interesting.
4. Who else does it represent?
Not only do posts represent the person who posted them, but they also represent everyone associated with that person. So when your kids post, it also represents their parents. It represents their teams, clubs, school, extended family, workplace, church, and social group. They need to be aware that their posts don’t just affect them. Their posts are a reflection of all their associations.
So in the end, what should kids do?
Before pushing the button to post, kids should take a moment to look over the post and consider whether it’s appropriate. If they aren’t sure, they should probably remember this quote from Benjamin Franklin: “When in doubt, don’t.”
Sound off: What have you told your kids about posting on social media?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How can posting on social media affect you?”