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Unplugged Friendships, Go

As an old-timer working in the technology industry, I marvel over technological advancements made over the last decade. As a mom of two teenagers, I love the ability to “check-in” on them as they are out and about. When my son became a licensed driver, he was able to discretely text me once he arrived at his destination and likewise, send me a quick text to let me know he was on his way home allowing me to set my maternal clock anticipating his safe arrival. My kiddos think I’m a bit too “plugged-in,” and maybe they are right. The birth of social media has provided us the ability to stay in touch, rekindle old relationships, participate in world-wide discussions, research like never before, plan events like a pro, and yes, even track our children. Don’t get me wrong, these advances are great; however, with the good also comes the potential for harm. There is a real psychology behind using social media to build relationships. How real are they? What can we, as parents, teachers, and mentors, do to help encourage our children to put human interactions first? With a little knowledge, I am hopeful we can equip ourselves to help steer our children and ourselves in the right direction. There is a plethora of ever-changing information available on this topic and links to suggested reading are available below followed by some tips to manage friendships in the “plugged-in” world.

Suggested Videos/Articles:

Plugged-In Tips:

  • If you can talk in person vs. texting, please do!
  • Use private settings wherever possible
  • Post knowing your information, even if private, is stored on a computer somewhere and may be accessible to strangers (even images used via the new, popular app called “snapchat”).  Did you know that anyone can view your tweets, no subscription needed?
  • Encourage positive posting; avoid publically sharing personal or negative thoughts. If you wouldn’t say it to someone in person, please do not post it.
  • Stay tuned-in to your children’s social accounts. Yes, mandate friendship within facebook, subscribe to their tweets, Instagrams, Vines, etc. Even the ones they probably don’t think you know about such as “Tumblr.”
  • Stay informed by subscribing to a twitter feed about cyber safety, such as @GetCyberSafe.
  • Encourage get-togethers vs. “couch potato texting.”
  • Save a little cellular battery time, and hand write a note to a friend. They’ll love it!