After all this discussion of how social media benefits mentors and mentees, I started thinking how it can benefit children still in school. To get more insight into how kids are already using social media, I contacted my friend and one of my first mentors, Jen Reeves. Jen is a former News Producer and Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow. She has worked for the University of Missouri as a Journalism Professor and Executive Producer at KOMU-TV 8.
Jen used technology to change the structure, organization and workflow of the KOMU newsroom. She now works as KOMU’s New Media Manager and leads the ongoing developments at KOMU.com. She is working on finding ways to expand traditional media by using non-traditional media delivery sources (podcasting, vodcasting and other on-demand and push technologies that can deliver content). In other words, she’s my favorite go to expert.
Jen has two adorable children, Cameron and Jordan. Both of them have blogs written by Jen as a way to keep friends and family in touch with the goings on of the busy family. Jen has turned Cameron’s over to him in a limited way and plans to do so with Jordan’s when she is old enough.
Additionally, now that Cameron is in elementary school, she encourages him to play with Webkinz and Club Penguin from time to time, when he’s interested of course.
“In those spaces, kids are able to interact by sharing items and ‘money’ but the only way to communicate is through pre-formatted sentences. There is no way to go outside the topics at hand,” Jen said.
Translation, this is a safe way for kids to get comfortable using social media and easily learn what is and is not acceptable.
As more Millennials delve into the world of parenthood, those children will grow up thinking a constant connection to the internet via phone or laptop is normal. Teaching these children safe internet practices, especially on social media, should start early, just as Jen has done.
Are your children on social media? Which sites? How do you monitor their online behaviors?