Spring Break – while it varies from school to school – has just passed or is just around the corner for many teens. Depending on kids’ ages, this time of year probably has some parents worrying about trips their teens might be going on or extra social events they have planned. Another worry to add to parents’ list is what will show up on their teens’ social networking profiles before, during or after that worrisome spring break vacation.
Fortunately, having strong communication with your teens and using the help of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, parents don’t have to stay completely in the dark about what’s going on during spring break! Check out our tips below:
- Have a conversation before they even leave – before your kid hops on a plane or into a car and head off with their friends, talk to them about both your and their expectations for the trip or event, and remind them of the implications that “spring break” can have.
- Check for warning signals – if your teen is reluctant to share details about their plans, they’re probably not old or mature enough to go somewhere alone. Make sure you have all the details before any definite plans are made (whether they’re going on a trip or to concerts, parties, etc. at home during their time off).
- Establish ground rules for checking in – have some guidelines for your kids while they’re away. Make sure they check in with you at certain times and keep you posted on a general plan or itinerary for their break.
- Avoid oversharing details of plans online – if your kids are posting details of where and when they’ll be at any given time, they risk getting unwanted attention from potential online predators. As long as their family and friends know where a teen is, the rest of the online world doesn’t need to find out from sites like Facebook Places or Foursquare.
- Talk about what photos or videos to post…or not post – have a conversation about what’s appropriate and what they should probably avoid capturing on camera. Inappropriate photos or videos – once posted online, can damage a kid’s online reputation forever.
- Pay attention – if you see a potentially damaging or risqué photo or status update while your teen is away, try to contact them and address the issue. No teen wants to come back from a trip and find out they’ve been fired from an after-school job or are at risk with their college application process.
- Twitter feeds can be very telling – the use of Twitter is all about being in the moment and sharing any thoughts that come to mind. Check out what your teen is tweeting, whether they’re on a trip or have a lot of social events planned during the break.
- Encourage photo sharing – have your teen send you photos, especially if they’re in a cool place (like the beach!). Most kids have cameras on their phones – have them text or upload a photo online, and let them know you’re happy that they can have such a fun break.
Spring break can be a positive experience for parents and kids alike. Rather than constantly worrying about what they’re doing, show your kids that you’re interested in and excited about their plans and hopefully they’ll want to share with you, not hide from you.
How do you stay informed of your kids’ activities – both on- and offline – especially during busy social times like spring break?