What does it mean to ask for privacy in the digital age? As kids turn into tweens and teens, they want more and more of it, and it can be incredibly challenging to figure out how, and where, to draw the lines. Does privacy in the traditional sense even exist when it comes to social media? And how much autonomy is too much or not enough when it comes to your daughter managing her online world? Kelly Ripa was recently quoted as saying:
Parents increasingly struggle with finding balance between educating their children (and themselves!) on the limits to online privacy, the permanence of what is shared online, and giving their children freedom to develop their own online presence. Since parents of tweens and teens are learning these online rules in adulthood, it can be incredibly tough to keep up with your adolescent's know-how online, and kids are smart enough to pick up on when parents don't really know what they're talking about! As tweens turn into teens, it can also be important for parents to learn when to step back and allow more online freedom. Author Mary Beth Williams writes:
As with all things child-rearing-related, there are no hard and fast rules. Each family, each child, each situation is different. As you develop (and continually adapt) your household's online policy, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Be transparent about what the house rules are. Tell your daughter if you will be following her online, reading her posts, checking her phone. This builds trust and a shared understanding of what exactly is expected.
2. Engage her in the discussion process. Invite her to think about what rules make sense and why. Talk with her, rather than at her, about what it means to have privacy online and how & why to protect herself.
3. Let her test her independence incrementally. You don't have to start off with unfettered access to Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook all at once. Let her build up social media literacy, demonstrate responsible use, and take on increasing autonomy.
4. Model respectful social media use. Ask before posting about them, sharing their pictures or otherwise exposing them online. Be mindful of your own social media posts, as well as how much time you spend online.
Whether you align more with Ms. Ripa's or Ms. Williams' parenting approach to social media, being respectful of your child's right to privacy is a good place to start with teaching healthy social media use. As Ms. Williams states: