Q&A: Shocked by your child's social media posts?Written by Wendy Kittlitz
Question: I recently discovered that my daughter has a private social media profile and I’m appalled at what I saw there – language and activities we would never condone! Why is she doing this and what can we do about it?
Well, it is certainly easier to tell you why your daughter is doing this than what you can do about it! Like most tweens and teens, your daughter is probably trying to fit in with her peers, which is becoming increasingly important to her developmentally. She is also on the path to individuating from you – moving out from your "control" and becoming her own person. These can actually be good things, but there are dangers out there that children are too young and inexperienced to fully appreciate.
Here are few suggestions as to how you could respond:
- Let your daughter know that you are aware of her private profile and ask her to sit down and look through some of the posts with you. As you do, ask her about the posts that trouble you. Is it really your daughter who is saying or posting inappropriate things – or is it her friends? If it is your daughter, try to find out what is motivating her to do so. Ask her if she thinks her posts are appropriate. Asking questions will help open a conversation more effectively than simply demanding that she stop posting inappropriate content.
- Remind your daughter of some of the values that are important to your family, such as respecting others and using clean language. Maybe, as a family, you could memorize and talk about the meaning of verses such as Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things."
- Talk with your daughter about the conflict that kids can experience between the values they are being taught at home and the values that others (including peers) may have. Ask her to brainstorm with you ways to address that conflict that seem helpful to her.
- It may go without saying, but set clear limits on your daughter’s use of her computer and other digital devices. Some parents have their children sign contracts that define how their digital devices are to be used and the consequences of misuse. The terms of the contract may include how much time can be spent online, what type of sites can or cannot be viewed, how the child communicates with others and about others, etc. Remind your daughter that use of digital devices is a privilege and can be taken away. That is often enough incentive for children to stay in line as they are loathe to lose the privilege of having their devices!
- Schools and community groups often offer workshops for parents and kids on online safety. Take advantage of these opportunities and let your daughter hear the concerns from someone other than yourself. Often workshop presenters have compelling stories of what happens when kids unwisely expose themselves online. Their testimony will reinforce your message.
- Finally, keep praying for your daughter and your other children as they navigate the many temptations and influences they encounter daily. You will not be able to shield them from everything, so work on teaching them ways to critically evaluate what they are consuming and test it against your Christian values and the Scriptures.
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