Why does it matter
Think through the values you have as a family, and consider how social media can be an extension or a reflection of these values.
There were SO MANY thought pieces I could share THIS WEEK. However, it occurred to me that “WHEREVER YOU HEART IS, there you will find your peace,” I therefore found a soft heart [and peace] with this piece, and to give it a context, I wish to share with you a conversation I recently had.
That said, I must apologize for all the shouty capitals here, though seriously, I couldn’t be more jazzed right NOW about the conversation – “and why families MUST tweet together.”
Besides, and I hasten to add, that I’m super-glad and grateful for your indulgence, AND PLEASE DON’T lose sight of your sagely aspirations – of gaining knowledge – so keep reading this post, as we [you and I, or so I believe] have no reason to drop our mutual sagely aspiration?
Conversation – emerging online issues for Families
Recently, I had the thrill and privilege of meeting over coffee, with Kim [not his real name], we discussed the emerging issues that most progressive families grapple with. A casual unpretentious 2nd Generation scion of an entrepreneurial family, Kim is 40something. Though not too tech savvy, he is quite engaging, and passionate about the subject. A generational leader in his family, I must admit, he demonstrated amazing depth. He sure left those of us in the conversation impressed how he wrapped his head around the core issues with ease.
We all agreed as the discussion kicked off, that “Social media and its uses are impacting the world, and is here to stay,” however we also noted that it brings with it a host of questions for families to ponder. Now that, was the elephant in the room. And thinking carefully about what we post online is an integral process for families to go through together.
Maaan….you had to see Kims’ eyes, as they danced with enthusiasm. He was soon dribbling with insights, “…this isn’t just – for the high-profile or even wealthy families?” Kim said. And yes, he nailed it . “Indeed, he couldn’t be more spot on!”
Immediately he mentioned this, I almost kicked myself with delight. I knew I would one day share those thoughts with you – and I believe NOW couldn’t be a better time!
Online Posts Affect Real-World Safety
The boundary between who you are “IRL” [Internetspeak for “in real life”] and online is increasingly blurred—and for kids [and those recent initiates to social media], the line between the two may scarcely exist.
Whereas we don’t mean to sound like the evening news, the online world can be a little dangerous as numerous studies have demonstrated. Families of some standing, are usually more frequently targeted by identity thieves and cybercriminals. Even in Kenya. And so the online presence of your family including social media sites are a deep source of information for those who know what to look for. Families therefore need a heightened alertness to “stranger danger.” Noting that even strangers taking a photo of a family member while asleep can be used to create an adversely perception. (Side note: you should review privacy settings for everyone in your family regularly).
Below are the links to privacy setting information on the top four social media networks most often in play among students ages 13-18.
While some of the social media risks are frightening for families and may create the temptation to abstain from social media altogether. And its perfectly fine for individuals to stay off social media. It’s however unrealistic to ban social media usage in a multi-generational family. There may be valid professional reasons for using social media, and for the younger generation, an absolute ban on social media therefore may simply be so stringent that it’s ignored. Instead, families must work collaboratively to create a social media policy to promote family values – and even protect against security threats.
Collaborative Agreements – Keep in mind
One way to anticipate and possibly avert the dangers of online family behavioral risks, is to put in place a collaborative agreement; a “family social media policy.” The is an Agreement arrived at through conversations in a broader family setting, and presents a great opportunity to align the family’s values with its online presence. It provides guidelines on how each family members’ social media footprint can protect the safety of all family members, and promote the family’s legacy and values.
While a prescription of social media “dos and don’ts” issued by parents can be appropriate for young children, and compliments their efforts to teach their children how to be good digital citizens. The collaborative family social media policy is however meant to apply to both adults and children within the family and can’t be patronizing. The agreement, is therefore not a prescription from the family elders, but is instead developed with the input of all generations.
Conversation about a family social media policy could be as simple as a 45-minute conversation around the dinner table. However, because any time a new technology is introduced, it disrupts values, routines and behaviors, it’s an essential conversation to have.
Enforcing a Family Social Media Policy
A family social media policy is not like a corporate social media policy that threatens termination or punitive action if it’s breached. After all, a social media policy is meant to protect the family and encourage its values.
Breaches of the family social media policy must be discussed openly for family members to learn along the way about how the policy and the family’s social media usage will evolve. In multi-generational families, the penalties for violation of the spirit of the social media policy are left to the respective family unit, except for repeated instances or violations that cause significant financial harm.
Etiquette – even on Social Media
Now more than ever, families are faced with the task of teaching the kids [and recent initiates to social media] how to operate within a constantly connected world. And how to do it without bringing embarrassment, damage, or even danger to themselves or the family.
An effective conversation about social media is an important extension of parents’, grandparents’ and other family members’ efforts to instill good values in the younger generations.
Just as there is etiquette about how to behave in school, the workplace, the community, and sports teams, there is etiquette for interacting with others online.
A family social media policy is a good way to teach kids what is—and isn’t—acceptable behaviour, especially if they see their parents and extended family practicing acceptable behaviour. And if there’s an extended family member who is less than cordial in their online behaviour, you can always use their actions as ‘teachable moments’.
And so …
I trust that in reading this I HAVEN’T made you lose sight of your sagely aspirations – and that you have gained knowledge – and will enhance a mindset that Escapes from Shortsightedness as you make appropriate choices.
Communicate as you will, but remember besides you, Social Media also affects other people in real life —or their entire family—in ways that are difficult to anticipate, and when not done ethically and sensitively and from a position of knowledge it hurts.
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