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Letting Go...

It was a big day for our family last week. My daughter started high school! She was totally prepared, but was I?

08/09/2017

 

In some ways, it is much easier than it was "in my day". My first day was filled with the unknown and although I knew some kids in my year group it was intimidating due to the size and sheer numbers of other kids. Thinking back, I'm not sure that I was ready for it. As parents we can only help by using our experiences to influence our children. Nowadays though, the children are so much better prepared. They have plenty of transition visits to their new school before the summer holidays. This means that they know where they will be going, what they'll be doing and who they will be doing it with.

My daughter was so excited that she actually wanted the holidays to end just so she could start school! And even in the first week they were broken in gently with their "academic family" escorting them round the "big" school.

This is all very positive but what is different from when I was at high school is the onslaught of social media. I have managed to delay my daughter's use of use social media (unlike many of her friends), but I am not fooling myself that she will not want it in the future. And let's be honest, I would not and could not deprive her of this as it is the way that children communicate now.

Social media can be a positive place, as it helps kids stay connected with friends and family, as well as letting them share ideas and interests with other like-minded people. This works very well when it is used safely!

My worry is that what can start as a fun way to share can quickly turn into an obsession about approval that can wreak havoc on self-image.  Never has a generation been so obsessed with how they look, adding filters to make "improvements" and worrying about how many followers they have or how many likes their last post got?

Negative body image is a real issue and many children who are active online, fret about how they're perceived. This can also lead to bullying, which has always been there but somehow seems more sinister with the introduction of technology and social media because it is ever present.

In addition to body image, some apps automatically reveal the poster's location when they're used. This can tell anyone out there exactly where to find the person using the app. Photos, videos, and comments made online often can't be taken back once they're posted. Even after a teen thinks something has been deleted, it can be impossible to completely erase it from the internet.

So what am I going to do about this?

I educate my daughter about the pitfalls of technology and social media and I create an environment where she feels that she can be honest with me without worry of repercussions.

Another great idea for parents that I read about was making a "social media agreement" with your kids - a real contract they can sign. In it, they agree to protect their own privacy, consider their reputation, and not give out personal information. They also promise to never use technology to hurt anyone else (through bullying or gossip).

And what will I do in return?

I will agree to respect her privacy and not embarrass her online. I think that's a pretty good deal, don't you?

Martine Nadler, mum and manager of Tinies Glasgow

 
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