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A Parent's Guide To Understanding Social Media


I'll start with a disclaimer: I love Mark Oestreicher! I'll (almost blindly) recommend him as a thoughtful youth worker, parent, and writer. His name is certainly one of the reasons I picked up and read this book (this whole series, really). Disclaimer over.

Social media is an ever-shifting, potentially confusing landscape for everybody. Students seem to figure it out really naturally, but it's mostly because they're saturated in this world. Much more than we parents are. I found this short (less than 75 pages!) book to be very insightful and practical.

It starts with a fair amount of head-knowledge. There's quite a bit of psychological understanding, and behavioral discussion at the front of the book. Even if that's not really your heart language, I'd encourage you to work your way through it. This stuff offers some fascinating, helpful, and challenging insights into the minds and lives of teenagers. It really lays a solid foundation for the practical stuff that comes later on.

There's discussion about what teenagers are actually doing online, and some of the psychological impacts those things have (both positive and negative). The book gives you some solid things you can teach your children about how they interact online. Things like: "Don't post things online you don't want your grandma to see," it's not that easy to delete something from the internet, and future employers will likely look at your online activity to see who you are.

This exemplifies one of the things I like most about this book. This isn't really an instruction manual for how to set rules and boundaries for your teenagers' online lives. It's more like a book that gives you the background information needed to have a healthy dialog with your students, and make some common-sense guidelines that fit and work in your specific context.

The last chapter of the book is very practical, and outlines a few very simple things you can do and talk about. One of my favorites: Everybody (including mom and dad) can check-in their electronic devices in a central location before bedtime. This can help prevent sleep deprivation, and reinforce that we own the devices, not the other way around.

If you're curious about what your students are up to online, and you want to have some knowledge that can help you in your conversations, this book is right up your alley. If your student isn't quite to the social media age yet, reading this early on can help inform your parenting strategy for when they do get there.

Overall, I'd highly recommend it.

So while we've pointed to lots of statistics and given lots of advice on technologies you may not fully understand, never forget that God equipped and prepared you for this amazing task of raising his beloved children.

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