Monday, January 05, 2015

Parenting Tweens: 10 Social Etiquette Do's and Don'ts for 2015

Parenting tweens (and teens) today is so different from when I was growing up. My parents didn't have to worry about my sisters and I sexting, maybe sex-talking, but definitely not sexting. This just wasn't possible because we had one family phone fixed to our kitchen wall which was analog.  

They also didn't have to learn another language to communicate with us - the language of Social Media Acronyms like...
  • P911 - Parent Alert
  • CTN - Can't Talk Now
  • FWB - Friends With Benefits
  • MOS - Mom Over Shoulder. 
And that's just the beginning! As a parent you need to be aware of The Secret Language of Teens: 100 Common Text and Social Media Acronyms.

Getting back to the differences. One major difference between my generation and my kids was that privacy existed.

So what's the big deal? 
Every parenting generation has its worries, right? Yes. But our parenting generation is faced with a much greater responsibility - teaching tweens social etiquette in a digital age.

The following are some social etiquette rules for parents of digital tweens that I've put together that hopefully will help instill some tween social awareness in 2015!

Parenting Digital Tweens Social Etiquette

  1. Commit to making 2015 a year of making eye contact with your children. It may be uncomfortable for them at first, but eventually they will get the hang of it. 
  2. Put down those mobile phones when you are having a conversation! I find it so rude when I'm trying to have a conversation with someone and their eyes and fingers are glued to their mobile phone. Here's what we do in my house. If one of my tweens is texting or playing a video game when I am talking to them, I politely ask them to put it down until we are finished. If they continue to text or play their game, I take their phone away for a week. Trust me, your tween will get the picture pretty quickly without you having to Instagram it.
  3. That leads me into meal time. Turn off all phones, eReaders and the television and be present. Sit down and talk. Find out a little about each other. Let your tween know that their friends will survive 30 minutes without an update on what they are doing in their house.
  4. When out at a restaurant, again have your tween turn their phone off or put it on vibration. This goes for mom's and dad's too. Kids learn from you. If you are constantly checking your email when out and about, your tween is going to think that is acceptable behavior. Seriously, why even go out to dinner? You could have just ordered in and saved yourself time and money.
  5. Medical conditions - exception to social rule #4: Our tween daughter has type 1 diabetes. When she is not with me, I always have my phone on and close by just in case she needs to reach me. It's part of my life. But I still respect my time when I'm talking with other people. I keep my phone's volume on low and glance at it if it rings. If it isn't my daughter, I ignore it. If it is, I explain to them that I need to get this call.
  6. One hour every day have your tween go outside and play a sport without their phone or electronic gadget. Exercise is so important. Kids today just aren't getting enough. 
  7. Bad Weather - exception to social rule #5 : On days where it's bitter cold or rainy, have your tween do an art project, build a puzzle or play a board game. It's not that I don't allow my kids to play a video game or text a friend or watch television. I just limit their time on electronic devices to one hour, so they can build other skills and get people interaction. 
  8. Parents, you need to teach your tween what is acceptable picture (and video) taking and sharing is, and what isn't. I'm amazed with some pictures people share on Facebook and Instagram. Seriously, who wants to see a bloody wound or a popped zit? Tweens need to know that they should never take or share pictures of themselves in their underwear or bathing, even if private parts aren't showing. And pictures of animal private parts should also not be taken or shared. They need to understand the consequence of taking pictures and having other's take pictures of them. An inappropriate picture posted and shared on the Internet can easily go viral.
  9. This leads me into teaching tweens that how they act out in public could actually be captured on camera or video. I don't know a soul who doesn't own a phone without a camera. Camera's are everywhere and pictures are being taken by everyone. Kids need to realize that how they act and what they do out in public can easily be video'd or caught on camera. There is a social responsibility for parents to help tweens understand that privacy is a thing of the past and getting caught doing something irresponsible or stupid (like vandalizing someone's property) is a reality.
  10. Lastly, tween parents bring back family time! One night a week, enjoy a meal together without any portable electronic devices or the television on. Share stories. Laugh. Listen. Then play a game. My kids love playing charades. Do you know what games your kids enjoy?
I welcome any other tips to help tween parents instill social awareness in their kids! 

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