Today’s moms and dads are forced to tackle parenting in the often troubling age of social media. With tech constantly changing, so many parents are left in the dark about what our kids are really doing online. But an exercise created by a clever teacher has forced kids to reveal their deepest social media secrets — and the results are pretty shocking.
Teacher Skipper Coates asked her ninth grade students to finish the sentence, “What my parents don’t know about social media is …”
On Facebook, Coates revealed that out of the 85 students she questioned, only five said they didn’t have any social media accounts. The vast majority of them revealed that they used things like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat way more often than their parents realize.
Whether that means using social media to trade nude photos or buy and sell drugs, the kids made it perfectly clear that these things are always accessible to them if they “follow” the right people.
One student claimed to “swear too much and talk sh*t” and admitted to having received nude photos online from boys whom he or she doesn’t know. While sexting definitely isn’t a new concept to most parents, it has been revealed that somewhere between 7 and 28 percent of teenagers engage in sexting of some form. Some experts have even suggested that sending and receiving nude photos may be the “new normal” of adolescent sexual development.
Even if you believe you have access to all your kids’ social media accounts — or you think they have none — they have ways of getting around us. Secret accounts under different names, “fake” Instagrams — some even go so far as to use their friends’ devices to log in.
Social media is endless and far-reaching, and there doesn’t always seem to be a way to control our kids’ use of it. But complete control may not be the answer, anyway. We know what happens when we try to keep our kids from stuff they really want; they only go after it harder and get a lot better at keeping us at arm’s length.
The key to keeping our kids safe and smart while using social media lies in trust, education, and communication. Experts have discovered that social media makes teenagers feel less lonely, helps them express themselves emotionally and creatively, and teaches them a lot about human empathy.