Today I was a guest on Vermont Edition on VPR, our local NPR affiliate. The topic was “To Post Or Not To Post: Social Media Boundaries.” You can listen to it and read feedback from listeners right here on VPR.net.
Some of the conversation focused on how adults should be mindful of common social media pitfalls. Attorney Geoff Hand (who’s also a coach on my kid’s little league team) called in to discuss some of the legal issues around freedom of speech and employer-employee rights of expression.
He made a smart analogy to Miranda rights: when it comes to social media, you have the right to remain silent, and everything you say can be used against you. So be mindful.
We also talked about kids and social media. From my POV there are two main considerations here: teaching kids how to properly, safely use social media, and thinking about what we as parents share about our kids online.
Nicole Ravlin, who was also on the air with me, explained how video games with chat functions are a common danger zone for kids. She also talked about how careful she is about what she personally posts. As a PR pro, she certainly knows how careful people need to be on social media.
I mentioned my recent decision not to post photos of my kid on any social network besides Notabli. I also mentioned that teaching my kid the best, most useful and responsible ways to use social media is part of my job as a modern father.
Here are some interesting stats about social media use and grownups, via PEW Research Center:
- Fully 71% of online American adults use Facebook
- 70% of Americas say they use Facebook daily (including 45% who do so several times a day)
- 39% say they are connected to people on Facebook they have never met in person
- 23% of adult internet users/19% of entire adult population use Twitter
Stats about kids and social media are even more eye-opening.
- 92% of teens report going online daily — including 24% who say they go online “almost constantly.”
- Kids aged 13 to 17 who use social media are leaving Facebook faster than ever, with the percentage of those with accounts dropping six points from 94% last year to 88% in 2014.
- 21% of kids under 13 use social media sites
- 26% of kids under 13 have a YouTube account
- 45% of teens access YouTube most often
- In a survey of kids 8-12, 35% said that Facebook was a site that they didn’t use but was more for parents, while 38% said they use and enjoy Facebook
- Snapchat prohibits users under 13, but since they don’t ask for age at sign up, it is unlikely that this is actually monitored
The struggles kids have with the proper use of social media use aren’t that different from issues faced by adults. A great book on this topic is “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.” Author Danah Boyd organizes those struggles chapter by chapter:
- Identity: Why do teens seem strange online?
- Privacy: Why do youth share so publicly?
- Addiction what makes teens obsessed with social media? (or are they?)
- Danger: are sexual predators really lurking everywhere?
- Bullying: is social media amplifying meanness and cruelty?
- Inequality: can social media resolve social divisions?
- Literacy: are today’s youth digital natives?
These issues come into play even for younger kids. Some people think Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is designed to protect kids younger than 13. However, as Common Sense Media reports, COPPA actually:
“Prevents companies from collecting certain information from kids under 13. Rather than create an environment that protects kids from data tracking, Facebook and other websites and apps choose to restrict access to those under 13.”
Teaching kids how to navigate these issues – privacy, advertising, personal information, identity, safety, respect, and boundaries is a critical responsibility of modern parenthood. Here are some tools to help:
- Visit Common Sense Media for toolkits, information, and even games that can help you teach your child digital responsibility skills.
- Edutopia has a great list of resources for parents.