I had to laugh during Ella’s conference and how her teacher was describing the “drama” among the entire 4th grade class. It is insane how young it begins. She was describing how their were issues of “cheating” on each other~ummm this is 4th grade no one should be dating! Then she was describing how even social media is playing a part in the drama at school. There are 4th graders on Facebook and twitter and who knows whatever else. I am in shock! She said how whatever “fights” occur on the social media sites are then carried over into the school day. This is ridiculous to me. Teachers should not be dealing with this nor should this even be an issue in 4th grade.
Yes Ella has an Instagram Account, a Pinterest Account, she can text, FaceTime, and an email account. However, I am very involved in these accounts. Ella is fully aware that I can check them at any given time and that I do on a daily basis. Not sure her friends are aware of it. As a matter of fact, I just got finished doing so and we will be talking! She also is not allowed to download or create an account without my permission. I make this hard to do because I am in control of the settings and she does not know the passcode to unlock it. Although she has tried and thinks I don’t know it. But I am very much aware that she will soon be at an age where she will keep even more things from me. But I am doing my best to keep the lines of communication and trust open.
This became a teachable moment….I explained to her that with social media once you post something it is there forever. It doesn’t matter if you delete it or you don’t go on the account anymore….it is still there! I explained to her how people will pretend to be someone they are not with social media. This was very hard for her to understand. I tried to explain that an adult can pretend to be a 4th grader and you would never know because it is very hard to really know a person just through social media.
I explained to Ella that the same is true even as adults. People will appear to be a certain way on social media when in reality they are not that way at all. People will have a “social media image” and it could be that they travel all over, have a terrific life, know certain people, are nice people, etc when the truth is, they are not like that in their real life. People will start “fights” or post passive aggressive comments to get a point across or even to start a “fight”. Ella really struggled with this. I told her I struggle with it and I am an adult.
We talked about how once you “say” something (type/post) something there is no going back. Words hurt. Pictures hurt. I kept stressing the importance of being kind and not getting involved in matters she has nothing to do with. I, also, told her that “fighting” or simply saying mean things about anyone through social media will not be tolerated. Did she understand? Only time will tell.
We live in a world where it is so easy to pretend to be something or someone you are not. It is so easy to hide behind a screen. I feel it is my job as a parent to teach my children by my example. I am very open when I make a mistake. I am very open when I have misjudged someone or have been misjudged by someone myself. I don’t think there is an easy way to teach this concept to a child. But I feel it is a parent’s responsibility to at least try. We certainly do not have an easy job with all of these social media outlets!
Ella is only going to be 10 and I am struggling now with social media that has been around longer than she has. What will it be like when Gracie is 10? I don’t even want to think about it 😉