​Quiz time!

What happened on these dates in history?
               March 22, 2002
               August 1, 2003
               February 4, 2004
               March 21, 2006
               October, 2010

If you said, “The starting dates of Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram”, you are either really tech savvy or the COOLEST DAD on Earth!

Every year new and upcoming companies try to start the “Next Great Thing” of social media.  In addition, every time I turn around a new app or gizmo will keep me “connected” with the world around me.  All you have to do is start an account!  How many accounts do you have?  How many do your kids have?

As a technology director for a church and school, I have seen the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of social media.  However, I believe it has a place in our society if used properly.  It can be informative, educational, and even fun.  So why does it sometimes get a bad reputation?  Because nobody taught us!

Let’s look at it a different way.
How do we know that playing with knives could be dangerous?  Because we have seen what can happen when someone is careless with a knife.  Because we understand the dangers.  Because we have learned from others.  EXACTLY!  We LEARNED from others; we were taught how to handle and use a knife properly.  Moreover, if you are one who does not use a knife, then you choose to keep yourself away from potential harm.

When it comes to social media, we ALL are the teenagers.  Our maturity and experience is only, at the most, 15 years old.  We, ourselves, have not had a lot of time to learn from other’s experiences, to receive wisdom and knowledge from previous generations.

So how do we help our kids navigate the challenges of social media?

The education of “How to Use” social media is ongoing.  We should be aware and proactive when it comes to helping our kids.  Following are three items I like to share and discuss with my daughters and my students.

  1. If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” WOW, I heard that a few times growing up!   I like to ask my students, “Would you say that in front of your mother, or even your grandmother?” Why do people think it is okay to write vulgar or mean things, but they would not say out loud in public?
  2. Talk the talk . . . Walk the walk: Do what you say and mean what you say.  Unfortunately, there are some on social media who are (for lack of better words) two-faced, talk out of both sides of their mouth, passive aggressive.  Be the good example for your kids! If we do not agree with our child’s teacher, school, coach, or a parent of a friend, we should not spout their praises in public, then turn to social media to air our grievances.   Teach and SHOW your kids how responsible adults should act.
  3. Keep it positive! Our world is full of sad, discouraging, and negative news.  Help your kids see the brighter side of life.  Be the standout who spreads a little joy and happiness. Giving your kids a guide for social media will spread a little joy and happiness.  It just might make this world a little better for you, me, and the many generations to follow.  

About the Author

Josh Wanner is the father of three girls.  He and His wife, Kari, live in Springfield, MO where he works as the Technology Director for Redeemer Lutheran Church and Springfield Lutheran School.  He can be reached for question or comment at [email protected]

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