Middle School Makeover Part 6: Social Media and Sex Talks
Now onto part two of Middle School Makeover where we delve into more specific situations!
Let’s start out with number one: “Everyone has an Instagram but me.”
So your child wants to jump into the world of social media. This can make any parent understandably wary, but there is a positive side that Michelle points out, “[Instagram is a] creative communication tool that kids use to express their interests and concerns, and powerful parenting tool that lets us stay connected with kids when they begin to pull away during the tween years” (page 87). If shared and open communication is being made about the content on different social media sites it can give you clues about your changing child’s new hobbies and likes, leading to a deeper more involved relationship between the two of you.
Michelle gives a list of her Instagram/general social media on pages 88-91, which I highly recommend reading through. Make sure you don’t skip over the important safety rules to protect your family like not sharing personal information. It is vital that you go over online etiquette and discourage inappropriate and bullying behavior.
Allowing for open discussions about social media can prevent your child from going behind your back and making an undercover account of which you aren't aware.
Issue number two: “Goodbye, birds and bees—hello, porn.”
This period of life comes with awkward more advanced questions about sex that you may or may not be ready to talk about with your children. However, it is important to face the question head on and give an accurate response so he/she doesn't turn to Google or some misinformed kid and end up with a skewed perception of sexuality. Most of the time, kids just want enough information to save face with their peers and not be the only one who doesn't know.
Michelle gives an example of a boy asking what sixty-nine is. You can give the brief answer of “a nickname for a sexual position between two adults” and then if he presses for more information give a quick definition of oral sex, but likely, he won’t press that far. It is also important to buy yourself time if you need to look up correct language to use or think about how to say it. Let your child know you’ll get back to them, and make sure you do.
Most importantly don’t react in a negative way that will discourage them from coming to you with more questions. It says a lot about your child’s trust and comfort with you that they would ask you awkward questions.
How have you handled social media with your child? Did you set an age limit for joining facebook or instagram? What social media related problems have you faced?