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e045 – Your Kids and Social Media with Lisa Pedersen

Podcast Episode

Lisa is a social media coach who is passionate about helping female business owners shine online, with social media plans that are smart, simple and stress-free. Lisa left the corporate marketing world 9 years ago to work as a freelance social media consultant and community manager and loves being her own boss. She has had the honour of appearing as a speaker and panellist on the topic of social media and blogging at various conferences. She lives in Toronto with her husband, two kids and dog - who are all huge Marvel and Star Wars fans!

Sabrina has worked with Lisa before as a professional social media coach, but today's topic is on kids and social media, from introducing them online to protecting them from the pitfalls social media has. What about social media should we allow our kids into, and what does it mean to cultivate a healthy online presence? Lisa says the best way to teach your kids responsible internet habits, is by modelling a responsible relationship with our phones. If we take a moment to think, a pause while we scroll, are we modelling good behaviour for our kids? The next thing that's important is to teach them how to use social media. Isolating them and keeping them offline keeps them from learning how to properly use social media. Eventually, they will get access, and if they aren't given the tools to know how to be safe, it could be a nightmare. One of Lisa's common rules amongst families is that if you wouldn't say it to a person's face, you shouldn't say it online. Lisa will engage her kids and even share articles she finds on her media and show them the emotions and power behind social media and the ability to share stories and information.

One problem with social media is that there is always a new platform or new technology, and staying informed on the best practices while trying to teach your kids best practices? Lisa started allowing her 9-year-old daughter to text friends and family using iMessage. The devices are owned by the parents and they have full transparency with spot checks. Lisa will log into her daughter's Instagram account and will check new message requests, follow requests, and will ask her daughter who they are. Lisa is very transparent that she is not reading what the messages contain, but is checking who is reaching out. But Lisa is also transparent about the risks with her daughter and will discuss the predators and harm that has happened through social media. By being transparent about what the checks are and what she is looking for, it establishes trust in the relationship, and her daughter will come to her and ask questions if there is ever any interaction that seems suspicious.

Both Lisa and Sabrina talk about the importance of trust in the relationship with your child, and to enforce boundaries that have been established in the household. They have to be consistent and enforced, however, they look for your family. Boundaries do not just exist for kids, however, and setting intentions around your screen use is reflected in your kids. Sabrina even suggests introducing intermittent fasting for screens, at least an hour before bed and not having it be the first thing you do in the morning. Lisa suggests setting times when no electronics are on, for everyone in the family. As in, not during dinnertime or at a restaurant. Have a family meeting and everyone comes up with the rules and they can all work together to abide by them. The kids want a little bit of autonomy and a bit of privacy while talking to their friends and engaging online. As long as the trust and the rules are being met, with proper guidance and transparency on who they are talking to, good habits can be encouraged.

Social Media Addiction is a problem. Lisa has introduced social media and online tools to her children as early as 6.5 years old. From the beginning, Lisa has encouraged the boundaries and rules with her family and includes family-wide restrictions. When you make a rule for your children, follow it for yourself. Kids learn by example so review your own social media practices and see where you could improve.

There is also the risk of bullying online, where kids are being harassed in a new, invasive way. Lisa encourages empathy with her daughter by roleplaying interactions with her and guiding her daughter towards understanding the effects words and situations can have on the other person. If Lisa finds one of her children have engaged in bullying, she asks them what they think needs to happen to either fix something or right that wrong. If we are teaching our kids from the beginning to not say things online we wouldn't say to their face and we are teaching them empathy for other people, they are going to have more responsible relationships online. The other piece to teach our kids is that if they see someone else being bullied, to speak up. That sometimes you need to stand up for the person being harassed.

Often parents plead ignorance and don't know or understand what their kids are doing online. Lisa suggests to those parents who don't know how to engage with their child on social media, is to ask them. Become interested in what they are doing and what they are talking about. If they don't feel threatened, they will show you what they are doing. If you can appeal to them in a way that makes them feel powerful, they will be more likely to engage and let down their defences. If you find that you still can't get a handle on social media and your kids, Lisa offers coaching and guidance on how to engage with your child and protect them from the threats that can exist online.

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