Today I was saddened to read about a student I know who is being cyber bullied over the popular app, Yik Yak. Yik Yak is an anonymous social media app. It is available for iOS and Android and it allows people anonymously to create and view “Yaks” within a 10 mile radius. A “Yak” is a basically a anonymous tweet or status like you would see on Twitter or Facebook.
Most of the “Yaks” are degrading individuals by calling people whores, sluts, douche bags, etc. Although not all Yaks are degrading individuals, some posts are about the realities of life and can be pretty funny sometimes. Many of the Yaks in this area I was looking at, were about girls in the high school by referring to them by their initials in order to not get the Yak reported or removed.
It is time for parent’s to take a stand! If you have a child in middle school or high school, it’s time to be a parent. You are not their best friend, you are their parent. If you want to know what is going on with your kids and social media, I have two word of advice for you, “Be curious.”
It’s often assumed our kids are keeping out of trouble and would never fall into the trap of bullying someone online. However, when a post or a Yak becomes anonymous, it becomes much easier to say something about someone you dislike because they don’t know who said it. Being curious allows you to ask your child questions when it comes to using social media. If you told your child you heard about Yik Yak and wanted to download it, what would be their response? How would they show you how to use it? Offer them to show you how a social media app such as Yik Yak, works on their phone.
I can’t say that my generation was completely different as we had MySpace, AOL and MSN Messenger as a way to communicate online, but we knew who was saying what because you knew who you were chatting with. However, with the ability to be anonymous kids can say and be whoever they want behind a closed door.
IT’S TIME FOR PARENTS TO TAKE A STAND. BE CURIOUS, ASK QUESTIONS, ENGAGE YOUR CHILD ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA!
Here are four questions to ask your child about social media:
- How are you using social media right now?
Stay curious, and let your kids know you’re here to help them navigate the ins and outs of growing up in a connected world of social media.
- What do your devices do?
Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it’s the secret to starting conversations with your kids about social media.
It’s on us as parents to take the initiative and create a space where our kids can openly talk about the way they are engaging in this wildly engaging technological phenomenon.
- Which of your friends have devices?
As with any question about technology, start a conversation, not an accusation. You don’t want your daughter to think just because her friend Jill has an iPhone, her parents have made a bad decision. Or that Jill has done something wrong.
- Have you seen anything interesting lately?
This question makes the Internet a two way street and I actually learned it from my own children. Right now, they often ask me if anyone has posted new cat videos on the Internet. That is without a doubt their favorite use of the Internet. Every few days they ask me that, hoping that someone in the world wide web has filmed a cat doing something humorous.
I assure them the answer to that question will always be yes. For the rest of their lives they will always be able to find a new cat video online. But as they get older, and continue doing things like tracking stock on their own, the question is bound to shift.
I will be the one asking it. I will be the one asking them if they’ve seen anything funny or silly online. I will be the one asking if there’s a song they like or a blog they’re reading. I will be the curious one.
Maybe for you and your son it will be about extreme sports. You’ll have a shared interest in videos of people doing ridiculous motocross jumps. Maybe it will be music focused with your daughter or sports scores or any number of things.
It’s a big Internet with a lot of possible connection points. If we’ll ask the right questions.
If your kids are online or using the Internet at school already, flip the tables on them and be curious.
Don’t wait for them to start a conversation. Start one of your own by asking, “Have you seen anything interesting lately?”
Questions taken from Parent Cue at: http://theparentcue.org/four-questions-every-parent-should-ask-about-social-media/
PARENTS, TAKE A STAND!