Family secrets, personal drama, and challenges are being exposed more and more today to a wider audience due to social media becoming mainstream.
Almost daily you can find a story of someone’s personal life being exposed or revealing some personal information which can be damaging or embarrassing to say the least. Never have our mistakes been so easily, quickly, and widely exposed.
It Can Be a Dangerous World…Online
Sexting, Cyber-bullying, Facebook parenting are all words and phrases we’ve heard before. As a parent of a 12-year old, that is something which I have some level of concern. Social media as we know it today is new to everyone, there are very few people, outside of Mark Zuckerburg, who have more than 10 years of experience.
That poses unique challenges to parents as we are still learning to operate in an environment that changes very fast.
We are now charged with the task of teaching our kids how to operate within a constantly connected world. And how to do it without bringing embarrassment, damage, or even danger to them, us, or anyone in our family.
It is a steep challenge, but it is something we all can do, and we all must do. Establishing a Family Social Media Policy is one of the first steps you should take.
What is a Family Social Media Policy?
Just like families are faced with learning a new way of living in our social media-fied world, so are many companies. Companies with huge bottom lines, and huge reputations at stake. Many early-adapter companies have established social media policies to govern the use of social media by their employees.
Corporate social media policies let employees know upfront what rights the employee has in regard to social media. It will also establish the employer’s right to view and access an employee’s social media content.
A social media policy may cover what type of content can be posted via work social media channels, or when and where social media for personal use can be done. Consequences for violating any of the specifics will also be outlined.
Why Would a Family Need a Social Media Policy?
One of the main reasons companies utilize social media policies is to protect their brand. Their brand represents how their customers and potential customers view them. This view should line up with their values and how they conduct their business. Another purpose is to protect anything of value, and to keep the company out of legal trouble.
The brand to a family is the family name (or reputation). The family beliefs and values on which it stands. Many stories of sexting, cyberbullying, and online predators have shown that our kids need to be protected online as it can lead to harm offline. By establishing a social media policy you can take steps to this type of protection for your family name and to your children mentally and physically.
How to Establish a Social Media Policy
Your Family Social Media Policy does not have to be very complex. After all, you want your children of all (reading) ages to be able to read and understand it. There are a few things that you want to make sure you include.
Overall it should line up with your family values, how you speak with one another, how you interact with people not in your house, and how you deal with strangers. If you can answer these questions you can create a simple social media policy for your family.
- Why have a social media policy?
- What social media, traditional media, online and offline tools does the policy cover?
- Who owns the the tools listed? I will answer that for you. YOU, the parent, own them and can restrict use (if necessary) at any time without regard!
- When is it okay for the tools to be used?
- How are the tools to be used? What purpose?
- What kind of content can and cannot be shared via social media?
- What are the consequences for violating any of the policy terms?
Our Responsibility is to Protect, Provide for, and Prepare Our Children
As parents we are ultimately responsible for our children. Not one of us would hand our car keys to our children without making sure they have the proper instruction, an understanding of the rules, and know the potential consequences if not done safely. Social media should be treated the same.
Children are dying, families are being damaged, and futures are being affected by unsupervised and careless use.
I encourage you to be one of the early adapters of a family social media policy, take responsibility for your child’s use, and help to protect them from others and themselves.
Question: Do you have a family social media policy? If not, what will you do to protect your kids and your family online?