Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How To Connect With Our Teens On Social Media

I remember how it was like when I was a teenager, and how the home phone was crucial to staying in touch with my friends. During that time, we only have one home phone and there were 5 of us siblings. We had to practice restraint and courtesy by taking turns with the phone.

Unlike me as a teenager, my kids have wifi and a plethora of gadgets that allow them to be socially connected all the time. And they don't even have to concern themselves with taking turns because their gadgets are exclusive to them.

I have a 16 year old daughter, a 13 year old daughter, and a 12 year old son.

I consider myself very blessed to have kids who are generally well-behaved. As much as possible, I try to let them self-regulate their online presence. I don't want to be too controlling because I want to train them to learn how to self-discipline and be able to say no to themselves.

But we have basic house rules regarding gadgets and social media: All gadgets are required to be turned over before they turn in for the night. No gadgets on the dining table and in the bathroom. I think that's it.

My 16-year old's online behavior is typically listening to her spotify playlist, while she FBCs (Facebook chat) with thee or four friends simultaneously. Another window is on Twitter, and yet another one is on an article written by her fave fashion blogger. She takes a short break from chatting to go to Snapchat on her iPhone to send a snap to friends she has snapstreaks with.

My 13 year old, goes online to either watch a video or to get a recipe from the New York Times Food section. She adds the recipes to her list of things to make in the kitchen with me. My second daughter's online focus is more on researching about topics she is interested in. Mostly it's about food, recipes, Harry Potter, koreanovelas, mythology.

While my son mostly plays games on his ipad, with the occasional chatting on Facebook.

My Favorite Thing About Social Media

Part of what I do involves me being on social media. I often work with corporate brands, social enterprises and business entrepreneurs. I help them reach out and connect with their target market. In that manner, social media is a great business tool that allows for brand engagement and consumer connection.

As a parent, I've taken full use of all my social media accounts to connect with my kids. You don't have to ask, I'm on FB, IG, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat... I'm still not onboard with Snapchat. So far, I only use it to view my daughter's stories.

My favorite thing about social media is that I get to interact with my kids through it. I would like to believe that our social media interactions have made me a better parent. 

It has inspired conversation, laughs and deeper understanding. It has given me greater insights into my children’s lives, character and interests.

If I message my kids, I don't expect much in the way of a reply. Usually my kids will respond with a simple "k," sometimes they seenzone the message, but there are times that they also engage in a convo. But even if they don't reply, I keep sending them messages anyway so they know I'm thinking about them.

Whether we, parents, like it or not, social media will follow our kids the rest of their lives. I have explained to my kids that their social media accounts may be seen by all sorts of people, including their teachers, future employers and gasp... future in-laws! Hahaha! To simplify it for them, we agreed that they shouldn't post things that they don't want their ahma (grandmother) to see or read.

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My most active engagement on social media among all my kids is with my 16 year old because she's also the one who's mostly digitally connected.

We talk a lot more in person; but sometimes, I feel when we do it online, I am able to get my point across better because she doesn't hear the "lecture tone" in my voice.

I asked her permission if I can share some snippets of our convos. So yes, she proof read this post before I pressed the publish button. hahaha!

I scrolled up through my convo thread with her, and found these:

I send her reminders on when to take her meds

We talk a lot about NOTHING...

I remember the time when she screamed because she saw a cockroach, and no one even minded her because we all know she over-reacts all the time.

Sometimes, she shares her relationship goals with me. I always just remind her that she should just focus on herself at this time. 
To focus on being her best for her God's best.

As a mom to 2 girls, I constantly remind my girls to look presentable and well-groomed + to wear decent clothes (read: not too revealing). 
I also emphasize that personality endures beyond looks and endures over time. At the end of the day, it's better to have a unique personality, di ba?

Every once in a while, I look at their FB wall, Twitter timeline and IG feed. I am especially inclined to do so when I have a reason to think that there might be something going on in their lives that will be reflected in their accounts. Occasionally, I feel paranoid and think, "patama ba sa akin ito?"

Even if she's just in high school, I encourage her to to think of her future. I want her to try out a lot of different things so she gets a feel on what field she wants to pursue and won't have to struggle choosing what course to take in college. 

I remember when my parents took all the grandkids to Hong Kong.  It was my kids first time to travel without us. I remember telling my daughter to spend her pocket money wisely because she has this tendency to want to buy everything. In fairness, she IS fit so everything she tries on looks good on her. I told my youngest sister to be with her as she shops to make sure she's with a "responsible adult" who can influence her to spend her money wisely.

Just recently, my oldest daughter got promposed to. If you don't know what a promposal is, then it only means to say you don't have a teenager living with you. 

I LOVE it that she immediately messaged me to tell me about it... within an hour! Agad-Agad!!  I think I would've been heartbroken if she waited a second longer. I'm clingy to all my kids that way. Hahaha! I want + super appreciate when they give me dibs on their kwentos.

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With the digital natives outnumbering the digital immigrants in our household, I found it important to reach out to my kids in a world where they are comfortable in. So instead of telling my teens to put their gadgets down all the time, I connect with my teenagers in their digital domain frequently.

I think that’s the key to parenting. 

We have to make an effort to be there, where they are. And they are on social media - all the time. That’s simply how their generation have learned to interact socially.

So we must be there, too.

As parents, we are here to teach our kids how to responsibly embrace social media and to use it to their advantage.

With that said, I'd like to invite you to please click on my daughter's Facebook page, Whimsical Sushi where she sells personalized gift tags.

The designs are really nice, and the rate is very reasonable. It's the perfect Christmas gift for the teachers of your kids, your co-parents, officemates. You can also order for your own personal use.

You can view her designs and order from her here: Whimsical Sushi Facebook page.