“Mommy, mommy I want my own YouTube Channel!”
“Uhm…you don’t. You are eight.”
Those words are the ones that I exchange with my 8yr old twins on a daily basis. I often question myself if I am really having this conversation with a 2nd grader, and other times I wonder if I am just that old fashioned. Or both. I have discussed this other mothers from my kids’ classrooms and although some allow them do join social media (under supervision), most agree with me. They are just too little.
Every day after summer camp, my kids come home and tell me what they did that day, different trends they learned from their friends or even (gasp) online. Often times I ask them: What is the floss, the flip, or who knows what else is trending these days. It’s hard to keep up, even for me, a mother who has adopted the social media life both for work and for my personal use.
At dinner time, our family conversations revolve around random facts about some soccer player they life (the World Cup Fever is strong in this household). I look at my husband and wonder How in the world do they know this stuff? YouTube he responds. Everything is on YouTube.
According to a recent report by Common Sense Media, Hispanic parents spend an average of about 10 hours (10:01) using screen media. Of that time, just under nine hours (8:52) is for personal use, and over an hour is for work (1:09). The two most popular screen-based activities are watching TV/ DVDs/video (4:00) and video gaming on consoles, computers, smartphones, and tablets. (1:56). The same report also states that 29% of kids age 6-12—have an account on a social network site.
Our family has adapted to the modern times. This doesn’t mean I am going to open a handful of social media accounts, but I did got them started on technology gifts early. When the boys were 6, my husband and I gave each child an Amazon Kindles with the condition that they could watch videos online (please adjust Parental Controls accordingly) only after homework was completed. They also had a time limit of one hour before bedtime instead of spending countless hours in front of a computer screen.
As a minimalist, I also opted to get my boys e-books instead of paper, which not only keeps my house from getting cluttered, but this also means they can take books with them wherever we go. Double-win!
Would I let my kids have their own channel? Hmm….I think in another year or two I may give in, but only if I am the owner of the channel and supervise and upkeep their content. If your kids are older and you are OK with them being active on Social Media, here are some things I have thought of implementing when the time comes:
1. “The conversation” – Kids need to understand what’s out there, the good and the bad. They need to understand inappropriate images, online bullying, and to be reminded not to give away any details about their personal life.
2. “Lets make a Deal” – They can only have an account if a parent creates and monitors it for them. This includes uploading and reviewing content posted, comments, etc.
3. “I will watch what you say” – Parents can unfollow and block people that follow their account. Only friends/family can friend the account (add friend, etc). It is utterly important that we keep our children safe.
4. “Sign a Social Media Contract” – Both parties should agree what it entails to be online. This is not a required part of your daily routine but it is a perk you will have if you do everything that is asked for you. Grades are up, homework is completed, chores are being done. If you break any of these rules, your phones, tablets and video games will be taken away. Here is a really cute contract created by IMOM that can be downloaded/printed that can be used with your families.
Often, we look at our kids and are amazed at how fast time goes. We held their hands when they were babies, dried their tears (and ours!) on the first day of kindergarten, and year after year watched them become the little geniuses that would soon enough teach us about technology. Next thing you know we will have little YouTube stars, Periscopers and Snapchatters in our hands. Where did the time go?