Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Teens Dethrone Facebook. Where to Now?

For several years now Facebook has been the online hangout of choice for teenagers. Once Facebook opened the age firewall to those thirteen and older, teenagers became the largest demographic on the site. But just like every fad of the adolescent world, Facebook has fallen out of favor. The new "big kid on the block" is Tumblr. Twitter is fast on Tumblr's heels, with upstart Snapshat coming out of nowhere as well.

One thing this does show us is how quickly things change in teen interests. Three months ago no one ever heard of Snapchat. I wouldn't be surprise to see it on every teenager's phone or iPod by Spring 2013. Parents, you definitely want to beware of this one! Also, in late 2011 less than 5% of teens were using either Twitter or Instagram. 

Teens aren't necessarily cancelling their Facebook accounts. More than 80% of all teenagers still report having a Facebook. But like a middle school "friend" that they no longer hang out with, they've moved onto other sites. Also, site integration with Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc. lets them post to Facebook without ever having to visit the site.

I'm sure Facebook's falling out of cool has something to do with all of the parents (and older) who have taken up residence on the site. Okay, let's be honest, for better or worse, it has everything to do with parents. As parents we should be on Facebook, or whatever other sites our teens are on. We must also be mindful that we can easily move from coexisting online to becoming a helicopter parent online. Just as we talk talk to our teens and tweens about what they should and shouldn't do online, as parents we must also practice good netiquette.

Four Tips for Good Parent Netiquette

1.  Avoiding Posting Embarrassing Photos of Yourself Online.
Those silly Christmas and NewYear's photos of you will mortify your teenager. You may think it's no big deal, but to your teen, it's all about image management. Just remember how you felt when you were a teen and your parents got a little too close in public.

2.  Avoiding Posting Embarrassing Photos of Your Teen Online.
This is even bigger than the first. If you make your teenager get permission to put someone else's picture online (which you should), then you should practice what you preach by not posting their photos online without asking. Most of the time they won't mind, but give them permission to say no.

3.  Don't Correct Their Behavior Online
When your teenager does something online they shouldn't (and they will), talk with them about it at the kitchen table NOT ONLINE. This would be like giving your high schooler a spanking in public. It would be awkward for everyone involved. They need to be held accountable, but always in person.

4.  Keep Your Comments on Their Profile to a Minimum.
Most teenagers don't mind their parents occasionally commenting on their profile as long as it is praiseworthy. The key here is every once in a while. Imagine your teenager is having a conversation in the living room with some friends. You walk in mid conversation and interject yourself into the pow wow. Once again, awkward. The online world is your teenagers living room.

Love your teenager like crazy and don't be afraid to be the parent. Set the example in all you do for your teenager in how to have a good reputation online. Lead your family in modeling good boundaries. For more on technology and parenting check out Tech Savvy Parenting -- the first interactive eBook of it's kind.


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