Upper Elementary and Middle school Children Faced with Twitter and Facebook

As adults we grew up without the technology that we have been blessed with and cursed with today.  As adults we have a responsibility to safely and successfully aid the child in the self-construction of their emotional and mental bodies.  The Montessori classroom gives the child  the tools and environment to work and socialize.  The same should be true at home.  There is so much to do in the household. 

The child needs time spent with their parents which are hopefully good role models.  They can make chores fun and talk with them about the responisbility and importance of that activity.  Time can be spent playing, dare I say it, scrabble or monopoly.  Children at this age want to know why we have to do these things and that as adults with full time jobs need help to accomplish the tasks at home.  It is not a punishment, but a great help and responisbility for the family as a complete unit.  These tasks and games alone, along with preparing dinner complete the day for the child. 

Facebook, twitter and the like are too great of a temptation and opportunity for the child to make a bad decision at this age.  They may not even realize it is a bad decision at the time.  Why put them in a position for failure?  We need to set them up for success!  It is too great of a temptation at this age for children to make all good choices while surfing these types of web sites.  In reality it is not fair to them.  There are just some things parents have to say no too.  They can  say to the child, "I love you so much and because I love you I want to make you happy.  Sometimes decisions that I have to make, I know may not make you happy but I know it will keep you safe.  Since I have so much experience I need you to just trust me.  You may not understand my decision now and that is okay because I know one day you will."  That is basically it, right, there is nothing left to say about.  Keep in mind that I think that this explanation  or something like it should only be given to the well reasoned child at a calm moment.  I don't think it should be done if it is a heated moment. 

Being on Facebook or twitter is like dropping a child off in the world and saying "hey, you can go fend for yourself now."  There are all sorts of things that can go wrong no matter how well you prepare them.  If you have experienced your child making a bad choice on these sites, it is just as much if not more so the adults responsibility.  It is not even close to the same thing as teaching your child to look both ways before crossing the street to your neighbors house.  I would like to suggest a couple of questions to ask when making a decion like this.  How does this best supports my child's needs?  What are the chances of them making a bad/dangerous choice?  What would be a better way to aid in the self-construction of my child?

As always I look forward to your feedback and comments.

3 comments:

tzuidema said...

I think a lot of care and thought needs to go into the choices we make regarding electronic use and limits. I know the topic is Facebook and Twitter, but I have to say that I struggle as a parent of a 13 year old to find just the right balance between freedom and limits with T.V., Ipod, and the computer.

I did not allow Facebook when her friends were setting up accounts with fake birthdays, but told her our decision would be based on our trust in her to make positive choices. We also set guidelines that would allow us to monitor and observe her use of texting and computer. She proved to be trustworthy, we had further discussions about what we would consider appropriate and not, we let her set up a Facebook account at 13. I have her username and password and have set up the security limits on the account.

She consistently asks if someone sends a friend request and she doesn't know who they are. She has removed a couple of shared posts on my request and she seems to give more thought to it. I am hoping that it is partially due to the in depth discussions we had prior to her setting up the account.

From an observational standpoint, I do see some creative communication and posts between she and her friends. They have created some fun stop motion videos and generally keep things on a positive note.

I think monitoring, expectations for use, and education are key. I also believe that limits during the early years will help achieve the balance that we are all hoping to see. Children (and adults for that matter) who live in and appreciate the real world and people in it as opposed to children (and adults) who lead an unbalanced electronic existence.

Matthew Simberg said...

tzuidema,

Thank you for your response! I agree that with adolescence and depending on what their school environment is like, it can be difficult to find the right balance. It is difficult for adults too...haha. Of course adolescence still have growing brains. This leads to the challenge of how many hours a week and 'quality' of shows.

There was an article that I read about a mother and her son. Unfortunately, the son experienced brain trauma. Upon their visit to the neurologist, he recommended little to no stress and no school for several months. The adolescent son was prescribed to watch as much t.v. as he wanted to watch because it caused the least amount of activity in the brain. I just thought that was some interesting food for thought.

Sounds like you are very engaged with your adolescent and practice mindfulness when coming to important decisions. I wish more and more parents would engage in this sort of mindfulness with their children. Again, I appreciate you sharing your experience and look forward to more responses :o)

tzuidema said...

Thank you for posting this thought provoking topic. I believe it is very timely and will a topic of great consideration and debate over the next several years. I hope to read more responses as well.