As a parent, do you know which kids your child goes to the mall with? If your child says "I'm going out driving around with my friends", do you say "okay"? Or do you ask "who, what, where, when, and maybe why"?
An engaged parent asks those questions.
I remember when I was a teenager. There were a few phones in our house. One in the kitchen, and one in my parents room. My last few years at home, I got a phone in my bedroom, but it was the same telephone line, and I was not supposed to stay on the phone during the day, as my father worked from home. Having private, unsupervised phone calls was a challenge.
Many teens today live in two separate worlds, the physical world where we reign as parents, and another, the cyber world where we are often woefully absent. Today's youth have multiple social media venues they participate in. Many of them have a smart phone and maybe a computer to use as they see fit. At it's best, the cyber world is a tremendous social tool which they navigate with remarkable skill and it enriches their lives. At it's worst, it becomes a Lord of the Flies situtation with cyber bullying, sexting, academic cheating, and super-gossiping.
Either way, this cyber world and it's social tools are here to stay. We can catch up, and be stewards of our children in this complex ever shifting environment, or be left far behind, asking our children to raise themselves to the best of their abilities.
I challenge all of us to ask who, what, where, when, and maybe why regarding our kids social media usage. Know which tools they use. Friend or follow them. Make it mandatory. You wouldn't let them go to the mall with a known drug seller, or a kid known for shop-lifting, right? Hold the same standard to their social media. My kids have to share their passwords to all their media tools with my wife and I. I go on as them periodically. I don't post as them, and I make a point not to embarrass them, but you will see things as the "user" that you can't from the "following side".