I’ve been using Twitter since it became available, but until just this last month, my kids were not interested in trying out Twitter. About three months ago my 22 year old son opened a Twitter account and then just this past week two of my teens opened accounts. What I find interesting is that Twitter is expanding its popularity into a wider demographic.
I asked my kids why Twitter? All three responded that they were tired of Facebook and tired of large follower bases. They wanted to connect with a smaller group of people who meant more to them. Interesting! I am not sure how long this trend will continue, but for kids on Twitter I recommend that parents make sure that they do not set their profiles up as public.
By default a Twitter profile will be open. That means that anyone can follow your child and that anything your kid tweets is public. Shutting down a public profile to a protected profile simply requires one click action, but many kids simply don’t think of this on set up.
If you’re not sure if your kid is tweeting, make sure to ask. In fact, my teens tell me that many of their friends are not allowed to be on Twitter or for that matter Facebook and most of these kids do have accounts, but under assumed names; hiding usage from parents. I prefer the opposite approach: allowing interaction on social networks but with private settings and my confirmation of such. For my teens, my other rule is that I have to be allowed to be a fan or follower. This allows me to monitor my teens activity and who follows and corresponds with them.
I routinely chat with my kids about not sharing school names and locations except to people they really know online. That means a student in their school, not just someone they met online or play a game with online. As a parent I feel that it is important to help my kids have fun online, but within secure limits. Why don’t you take a moment and let me know what you do with your teens online.