This past weekend, one of my boys, the youngest ask when he can get his Twitter page. He has looked in on some of his favorites musicians on Twitter. He is an aspiring musician, and he has spent countless hours watching and learning music through Youtube. He is seven years old. What mother puts her seven year old in this space? A mother who owns the password, which her 7 year old does not have access too. One who gives specific time, that is monitored. Side by side he and I look in on his Twitter. I love that he is part of this. He does not have access to jump into this space, nor does my parental monitoring ever allow our kids to just "hang" online. Everything goes through me. Immediately he wanted to follow his older siblings and now the conversations are even more real. As he is able to chat with his older siblings. Which is pretty cool for him. Here is his page. A a parent who highly monitors ALL of my children, you can bet that I will oversee everything that passes through this page.
Those who know my parenting style know that I have never been one to wait "until they are old enough" to introduce some of the more growing up things. Who really decided "who is old enough?" If your children are asking questions, that is the teaching moments where they can learn from home rather than being schooled by their peers. When my kids come to me and ask questions I tailor the question to their age. At the age of 7 and being the 5th child this kid knows more about life experience than most teenagers. Together, he chose his background page. He chose his picture and what he wanted to say. He is now writing out the sentences he wants to share with people. Bonus! Writing skills are being enhanced.Typing skills are being enhanced. This time is part of a very big education as the shifts towards social media are real and will not be going away.
After getting his page set up he showed his brothers and the 11 year old got excited about possibly meeting people who love history. Ethan then hand selected his own photo's to make his own Twitter page. He started a conversation with a history buff that had Ethan researching on his computer more information around the topic of history. Anyone who knows Ethan knows he is a walking historian. He came up with his name "WakingHistorian" only he could not get the "l' in, to which he says, "That is okay mom, people do need to wake up and start learning more. Ethan has also connected with sports figures, and airplane hero's that he can now follow. " Here is his page:
Should parents allow their kids into this social space? To each parent that is a choice they will have to come to. Sadly with the ease in which to create passwords, and hop on friends' technology, you will either find out your kids have been in this space, or you lead them, teach them, and help them learn how to use this space for good. There is always going to be the bad. I have already shown my kids, even with these new accounts things that are important in real time, as they are online. My 7 year old said, "Mommy I don't want to hang out with people who are using bad words." Showing my son how to block the foul language, the creepy stuff. It's like sitting downtown having a muffin and cocoa with your kids and the conversation over at the next table is obscene. Do you listen and cringe, or do you talk to your kids? Talking about why you hope they might choose differently? It's the same in the Social Space.
Kids on Twitter or any social platforms with parental observation and involvement will keep kids safe. Every other kid is carry a phone in their hands. Even infants and toddlers are given phones to play with. My poor children will never have their own phone until they are able to be pay for it themselves. I sure they will get my cast offs, but the reality is this social space is not safe. Nor are the back streets of downtown Portland. Would you drop your kids off on the bad-side of town and say, "Okay kid you are on your own?" If something bad does come through their streams, don't just block it. Bring your child into the observations, the why, and then blocking. This does both teaching and develops awareness. Since my son Ethan was bullied in school, he has already learned how to not be affected by the words and unkindness of another. He has learned how to rise up and over the behaviors of others. As your kids get involved in Social Media, you the parent get to help guide and teach. Teach them well and kids on Twitter becomes a spring board for learning in this space which is proving to be a wonderful experience.