What would happen if we were all held accountable for our actions in high school? For every offensive, rude or mean thing ever said? Would they have any effect on our jobs, on our futures? In this day of technology where everything we post or tweet is stored somewhere, the odds of our children having no incriminating material are growing slimmer and slimmer. We have to teach them how to treat others right no matter who is watching – teach them how to avoid regret on social media.
Did you happen to catch the highlights of the 2018 NFL Draft? Maybe you couldn’t help hearing at least some bits and pieces around the dinner table or on the nightly news, depending on the age of your boys. One of the bigger stories focused on Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, who was a shoo-in as a 1st Round pick. His Twitter account revealed racial slurs and offensive tweets posted when he was in high school, and the media decided to broadcast them just days before the draft began. Allen did make a public apology, and ended up being Pick 7 in the 1st Round, going to the Buffalo Bills.
Allen was 14 and 15 when he made those tweets. Who hasn’t done something at that age they wish they could undo? Thankfully for his sake, most NFL teams were willing to take the revelation with a grain of salt. But according to Business News Daily, employers using social media to screen job applicants are on the rise. Teaching our kids now to be responsible on social media may save them hassle and heartbreak down the road.
Lessons on How to Avoid Regret on Social Media
Don’t Share Provocative or Inappropriate Images
This one should be a no-brainer. It really should. And yet, people young and old are constantly uploading photos or text about their bodies, and are shocked when they go public.
Inappropriate would also apply to images related to drug use and criminal activities. One of our favorite shows to watch is North Woods Law, which follows game wardens in some Northeast States. You would not believe how many people get charged with breaking the law because they posted proof on Facebook or Instagram.
Don’t Make Derogatory or Hateful Posts
In one article I read, many of Josh Allen’s tweets were pointed out to be song lyrics or lines from movies. That still doesn’t make them acceptable. I find it ironic that the world clamors for love, acceptance, and understanding, but continues to pay rappers for songs filled with hate, bigotry, and degradation. Nevertheless, doing what others are doing doesn’t make it right.
Even joking can be misconstrued. Just because your teen thinks something is funny doesn’t mean others will find it as amusing. Not everything needs to be made available for public consumption.
Don’t Bad-Mouth Current or Former Employers
Talk to your teens about respecting authority. Whether they agree with management or not, complaining on social media about their boss will hurt more than help. Their potential future employer may see those posts and decide to pass because your son showed no discretion.
If they signed any sort of privacy agreement, agreed to any terms and conditions at hiring, they could also be in breach of contract. Encourage them to read and comprehend paperwork before signing to avoid sticky situations later on.
Don’t Air Your Dirty Laundry
This comes back to discretion, and being smart about what you post. If you need to rant – use a journal. Paper is much easier to get rid of once you’ve had a therapeutic purge. Often what your teen thinks is the end of the world they will later be able to laugh at with a little perspective.
Tips for Parents
Be aware of your son’s social media use.
Friend or follow your children on all their social media outlets. Hopefully you’ve met the friends they interact with in person, so why would you not be aware of who they are talking to online? Knowing you are watching them and checking up on them confirms that you care about them, and will help them toe the line.
Perform routine checks on their devices for unapproved apps or communications.
With privilege comes responsibility. Not only more work, but more accountability. When you begin to give your children access to their own devices, make it clear that you will be “snooping” through them whenever you feel like it. If you make it a regular process from the beginning, there will be less contention as they get older.
Check for apps you are not familiar with, and make sure you know what they do. Apps like Musical.ly have been linked to sex offenders and sex traffickers seeking kids out. Roblox has worlds created by other users for players to navigate through, and you have no control over what your child sees in those worlds until it’s too late. Calculator% hides photos and messages – if they have to be hidden, that’s reason enough to be suspect. Make sure you know what the app does.
This approach is controversial, to say the least. Many parents feel it is too confining, or too overprotective, and that their children should be able to keep some things private. How will they learn if they don’t make their own mistakes? My question is, why do they have to learn from mistakes? Guide them around the potholes and let their journey be smoother than yours was.
Encourage open communication.
Communication is essential. If your child knows they can come to you with any questions, or even a confession, without fear of you overreacting, you will save yourself a lot of heartache. If they can’t come to you, they will go somewhere else – their peers, Google, or another adult. Don’t be afraid to admit to them you’re human, and have made mistakes too.
None of these tips are new, and you’ve probably heard them all before. We can all use reminders now and then. The world of technology is ever-changing and we can’t keep on top of everything, but if we’re diligent with our kids we have a better chance of protecting them.
What are your tips for avoiding regrets on social media?
Share this Post