Keeping it kind on social media: A primer for parents

Good behaviour on social media isn’t an instinct - it’s a skillset. Let’s help our kids acquire it by first examining our own sharing practices.

The number-one rule for posting? Do no harm. But it may be trickier than it sounds.

That selfie of your happy, healthy family may be a true expression of the joy you’re feeling - but it could be a digital kick in the guts to others who are struggling.

What can you do to be mindful of others online without overthinking it or sucking out all the fun?

Start by reviewing your sharing practices, experts advise - starting with the question “Why?”

Examine your motivations 

Be honest. Are you sharing that holiday resort pic because you’re genuinely grateful for the good things life has given you - or because you want others to feel just a tiny twinge of envy? 

Sometimes there’s a very thin line between sharing the joy - and getting a healthy dose of affirmation in the form of likes and comments - and seeking validation through subtle and maybe even unconscious one-upmanship.

Post-vaccination selfies are a case in point, notes Catherine Newman, the Modern Manners columnist for Real Simple magazine. By sharing your good fortune, you may be unwittingly inflicting pain on a friend who has lost a loved one to COVID-19.

Sometimes there’s a very thin line between sharing the joy - and getting a healthy dose of affirmation in the form of likes and comments - and seeking validation through subtle and maybe even unconscious one-upmanship.

The words you choose matter too of course. Corporate protocol expert Diane Gottsman advises reading your draft in multiple tones of voice before you post.

This can help you “hear” how others may interpret your message. Adding an emoticon can send a useful signal about the tone you’ve intended - whether lighthearted, concerned or ironic.

Maybe you’ve honestly never thought about the impact your post may be having on your followers. If so, now’s a good time to start. 

Imagine a megaphone

Because social media platforms can feel so intimate, it’s easy to forget they are first and foremost public spaces. Every time you begin a post, remind yourself that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like are essentially public address systems - yes, even if your account is set to “private.” 

png-clipart-blue-and-grey-megaphone-illustration-ux-south-africa-emoji-loudspeaker-social-media-hamle-grup-loudspeaker-angle-service

How many of us have “private” accounts that include dozens if not hundreds of followers we have never actually met? And people DO screenshot private posts and may circulate them widely. In fact, it happens all the time. Don’t fool yourself that this couldn’t possibly happen to you because you trust your 500 “friends.”

“If you want to post something negative,” notes tech journalist Courtney Rubin, writing in the New York Times, “keep in mind that what you say or share often says more about you.

“Disagree (respectfully), but avoid sweeping generalisations about entire groups of people - or about one business based on your interaction with a single employee.”

Shaming language should have no place in the content you share, even if you are soliciting funds for a good cause. Instead of “How can you not help ‘x’?” try something less judgmental and guilt-laden.

Remember: apology is a sign of strength

John Wayne’s infamous advice - “Never apologise. It’s a sign of weakness” - remains an article of faith for too many of us, politicians and parents very much included.

“If you accidentally step on someone’s foot, you don’t say, ‘I’m sorry if I stepped on your foot,’” says etiquette consultant Elaine Swann. “You did it. It’s not a question.”

In fact, apologising is just the opposite: It’s a sign of strength. When you realise you’ve made an error, or unknowingly caused hurt online, say so and/or delete the post. 

Avoid conditional apologies that include the words “but” or “if” (“I’m sorry if I offended you” or “I’m sorry you were offended, but I was only stating the facts”). 

“If you accidentally step on someone’s foot, you don’t say, ‘I’m sorry if I stepped on your foot,’” says etiquette consultant Elaine Swann. “You did it. It’s not a question.”

Remember that the best apologies are usually the simplest - “I see your pain. I’m so sorry.” 

 

Support your family to manage social media safely and responsibly, with Family Zone, Australia's leading parental control solution.

Find out more -  and start your free trial today.

Tell me more!

Topics: Cyber Bullying, Parental Controls, Screen time, Mobile Apps, Excessive Device Usage, Social Media, cyberbullying, etiquette

    Try Family Zone for FREE

    Sign up now to try Family Zone for 1 month, totally free of charge.

    Free Trial
    Subscribe to our newsletter
    Follow us on social media
    Popular posts
    Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | parenting | roblox
    Roblox: What parents must know about this dangerous game for kids
    Parental Controls | Mobile Apps | Cyber Safety | teens on social media
    Can we talk? 100 questions your teen might actually answer
    Parental Controls | Screen time | online gaming | roblox | sleep
    Family Zone: Now blocking Roblox with a single click
    Cyber Bullying | Parental Controls | Screen time | Mobile Apps | Cyber Safety | online predators | tiktok | paedophile | child predator | Likee
    LIKEE: What parents need to know about this risky TikTok wannabe
    Parental Controls | Screen time | online gaming | Fortnite | discord
    Discord: What parents need to know
    Parental Controls | online gaming | Social Media | primary school | krunker
    Krunker has landed - and it's got our kids in the crosshairs

    Recent posts

     
    How TikTok's funhouse mirror is distorting our kids' view of the world

    TikTok's algorithm pushes vulnerable kids toward risky content and risky behaviours, from eating disorders to self-harm.

     
    Would you pay to limit your own social media screen-time?

    We love our social platforms - but we also wish we spent less time on them.  A new study has found adult users are happy to pay for help in ...

     
    "Constant overstimulation" affecting kids' learning

    Teachers who've been observing concerning changes in students’ wellbeing aren’t imagining things. The constant overstimulation from screens ...

     
    Your child has less privacy online than kids in the US, UK & Ireland

    Aussie kids are sitting ducks for targeted online ads and privacy pirates, and will remain so until we enact protective legislation.