Things are not as they used to be, when your child’s life was physical and visible to only you. When records of their life where only found in really old album books, those pictures taken with Kodaks. Their life was a visible, linear line that you could track to their birth. And since their lives were simpler, so were their problems.
Nowadays, on Instagram or Snapchat, they document literally everything they do. Even close, intimate events that might not have been shared if these platforms didn’t exist. They’re putting themselves out there, no filters of what should be shared and what shouldn’t be. Their lives are now being led from behind a screen.
And we’re not saying that being connected to Snapchat or Instagram is a bad thing inherently, they are all neat and creative platforms that you can do a lot of good with. Unfortunately, this chance of good never taken.
Parents have a lot of catching up to do. Sure, there is a definitive gap between the two generations and there exists a steep learning curve for any parents that wants to get involved in their child’s life, and if they don’t they’ll be left behind and disconnected from their child’s lives.
Your Child’s Other Life
Raising a child is absolutely different from what it used to be. Children today are born into devices, you’ll see a 3 year old master an iPad and know what exactly app to download to get what they want. Teenagers are old enough to be born with the internet and to grow up with it as well. This means they know all the rules, the etiquettes and the trends that happen online. And since they spend almost all their time online, their ‘true’ lives are online. In real life, some of them might just be taking a break.
All of this might seem daunting as a parent. What are you supposed to do? You’re being left behind at a faster rate than you thought and it you don’t act fast enough, you might lose your child. Well, the first thing you need to do is know that anything that happens online is what happens in real life. All problems or dangers that exist in real life, exist in the online world. Think about it, “Stranger Danger”(don’t talk to strangers on the internet), Bullying (cyberbullying), being scammed etc etc.
But all of these dangers are exemplified based solely on the nature of anonymity on the internet. Your child might face trouble from someone they don’t even know, or might never know. The trouble maker might get away with it without ever being caught.
Your Involvement in Their Other Life
The first step you should take is to take a little and understand internet behaviors. As we said, it’s just real life dangers translated digitally, so it might not be as daunting as you thought. Understand the true purpose of the apps they use such as Snapchat or Kik.
When you have understood it, get involved. They don’t really have to live ‘another life’ if they think they have to hide something from you. Don’t punish them or come off as extra punitive. Let them be, but encourage them to share (as they do anyways online)
For any extra measures, you should probably invest in a cellphone tracker app, as many parents are doing. This gives you a little more insight into their obscure lives and will give you a better understanding of their behaviors online. Get involved with your child or they might get absorbed by the online world!