Whether you want to believe it or not, your teenage kids (if you have them) are on social media. SURPRISE! Even if you have had the “social media talk” with them, and they have agreed to abstain from social media use until they of proper age, your teenage child has access to social media pretty much whenever they want it. Your teens and social media interact everyday!
“Oh I can just delete that picture” said a high school student to me after a picture of her at a Halloween party was making the rounds on Facebook (and it had to make the rounds for it to make it’s way to her Youth Director).
For some parents, social media use by their teenagers (or even preteens) is no big deal, but what these parents fail to realize is their child is being bombarded by, and in some cases sharing, content they will never again be able to delete. Facebook and Twitter are no longer the only apps or websites teens are using. Even if your teen does not have a smartphone (iPhone or Android) they still have access to social media mediums via iPods, school computers, or better yet… THEIR FRIENDS!
When I was a kid, and I am sure the same holds true today, it was not uncommon to trade a Nientendo game or action figure (not doll) with a friend. And as a teen I would share CD’s with my friends, and many of the CD’s I received would have never enter the threshold our our home if my mom had seen them. The same hold’s true for your kids today, except they are trading iPods and phones.
These devices open the world-wide web to your teenager, and you probably did not know it was going under your roof.
So what impact does this have on teenagers? How does social media influence their decision making process (if there is a process) and their perceptions of the world? A few months ago I had the chance to hear Andy Root, a professor at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. speak at Wesley. One of the points Andrew drove home was that teens and young adults create an image they want to portray to the world, AND social media is a method in which this image can be shared and spread. Through social media, teens can create an alternate reality. Think of Disney World. Nothing there is real (for the most part). Everything Disney does is in an effort to create an “image of what is real” and what reality is suppose to look like.
What impact is social media having on teens? Check my Twitter feed this evening for an opportunity to submit questions for a live Google Hangout discussion on the role social media plays in your teen’s life, and how organizations are harnessing social media to communicate with your teen.