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What I Did Right & Wrong When Teaching My Kids about Sharing on Social Media


How many times a day do we reach for our phone when we see something awesome?

Think about it – most of us never even grab  a camera any longer.  “Oh, I’ll just use my phone”, right?

Because we always want to capture those AWESOME moments —


 pumpkin patch

That gorgeous Saturday afternoon visit to the pumpkin patch…..

outdoor photography with kids

That shot of your kids enjoying an amazing moment!


Leaf beauty in the Fall

The beauty that nature offers up …

And how many times have your kids said “Hey Mom/Dad, take a picture of me doing this!”  

Yea, it really doesn’t matter if we are actually ON the phone when they ask. 

To them, the phone is a way to record all those great moments in their life.  It’s a way to communicate with Dad at work when you can’t call him.  Or send a funny photo to Grandma.

My husband and I were just remarking over how much easier it will be for our son to stay connected with us and his friends once he goes to college next year.  

Heck, when we were in college, long distance bills cost more than the price of our text books!

Technology can really be an amazing tool – as long as we show our kids how to use it’s power for good!

Today’s families use digital technology in every aspect of life and broad access and use of technology is awesome and opens so many new opportunities for so many students. But like any aspect of life, there are things you need to know to make positive, safe decisions.


3 Ways to Help Kids Learn about Social Sharing

As parents, it’s important to find those teachable moments so we can show kids HOW  to #ShareAwesome.  Because, we all know that a photo of your 2 year old son in batman skivves is entertaining for Grandma but none of us wants to hear about teens snapping pics of themselves only partially dressed,


Model Good Behaviors

When I’m out with the kids and I reach for my phone to snap a picture, the first thing I let them know is WHICH camera I’m using – my phone camera or my Instagram account.  That’s a really big deal for my teen – who’s not always in the mood to be shared with the world.

It’s also good modeling for the kids – if you’re taking a picture of someone, you should let them know if it’s going to be shared widely or if it’s something that will just stay on your phone.

If I forget to ask, believe me, one of the kids usually wants to know where the photo will be so they can see it.


Set Boundaries with All Your Devices

Half the time, my phone or my husband’s phone is in my daughter’s hands since she’s younger and doesn’t have her own phone.

And here’s one area I messed up — I let the kids set my password on my phone and didn’t talk to them about how they can and can’t use it.  

I wanted to show them that we had an ‘open device’ policy in the house — anything on ANYONE’s device should be ok to be viewed by all others in the house.  So I was trying to model that — but I forgot how quickly kids learn to use a device.

Like the photos or texts my daughter just randomly sends to family members when she has my phone — they think I am sending them since it’s coming from my phone (really confuses my husband which is sometimes funny 🙂  Or the fact that she will buzz through my apps, rearrange my home screen to her liking, etc.

We have boundaries set with our kids devices (no responding to texts from people you don’t know, don’t let your friends use your phone, only approved websites when using the computer, etc) but I never thought about setting boundaries on how they use my phone.

So now I remind her that just because there’s a picture on my phone doesn’t mean she can send it to other people.  And I need to be able to find all my apps and icons.  Plus, she should always ASK before sending photos or texts to someone else.


Use One Key Question

I know it’s harder with teens – they know more about technology than we do on most occasions. 

What I try to remember is that I’m NOT really teaching my teen about teachnology – my goal is to equip him with the social skills all teens should have whether they’re on their phone or standing next to someone.

Because when it comes right down to it, social is social.  Just because that person is not right in front of your doesn’t mean that you can say or share something that would offend or hurt them.

When my son first got into social media (texting, photo apps, networking sites) I would always ask him one question –

“Would you text/share that with your grandmothers?”

I asked this almost every day. 

“So anything on your phone that your grandmother wouldn’t want to see?”

But because it was a funny approach to the issue of being safe and appropriate online, he didn’t mind. 

And sometimes he would even say “Yea.  One of my friends sent me this stupid picture….”

This one question started the conversation – that’s what we need as parents, just one good line that will help us to start the conversation without sounding preachy or judgemental.  Something that keeps it light.

I still ask this every once in a while just so he knows that even though he’s almost an adult, we can all use reminders about how to keep our sharing behavior in check.

Every family should find that one key question — a question that doesn’t judge or accuse, one that opens up the discussion so that kids feel they are PART of the conversation.



Share Your Awesome

The National PTA has partnered with LifeLock around the #ShareAwesome campaign which seeks to build an understanding among parents and students that no matter the device, the app or the networking site – the skills we need to be safe and positive online are similar to what you need offline.

Students who enter the #ShareAwesome contest between September 15 – November 30, 2014 will have a chance to win fantastic prizes, including tablets and a $2,500 scholarship!

Entering is easy — Snap a photo of an awesome moment in your day and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the #ShareAwesome hashtag!

Good luck & remember to take advantage of those teachable moments!



I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.