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I’m so glad social media wasn’t around when I was growing up! I think about how some of the littlest mistakes and embarrassments that only I really remember years later could have been saved forever — or even made bigger — by social media.

Growing up is hard, and blunders are inevitable. From the day you’re born to the day you leave your parents’ home (and really through college), you’re in a phase of your life when you’re the most susceptible to accidentally making a gigantic ass of yourself. You’re literally “acting your age” and the lessons you learn during that time are just a part of growing up. That’s why our parents give us rules, and when those rules are broken you pay the consequences.

Except now social media puts you in the position to pay those consequences in a public setting. That’s terrifying because my parents would have gotten a kick out of this, and then all of my peers would have known how I screwed up! YIKES!

 

Public Lessons in Acting Your Age

This may surprise some of the people who know me, but I was a pretty good kid! I didn’t really break curfew or get into trouble, but there were a few times I would go to a party or somewhere I knew my parents wouldn’t approve of. Back then we didn’t have camera phones and you had to wait at the drugstore to get your pictures developed. You could throw away the ones you didn’t want anyone to see. Now, a photo can be taken and instantly posted on social media, tagged, and displayed for every person you’ve ever met to see … including your parents!

I read an article on Yahoo! about a dad who posted embarrassing pictures of his daughter all over his Facebook as punishment for her social media rule-breaking. The girl had created several secret social media accounts and was dating a boy behind her Dad’s back and against his rules. How mortifying for that girl! I’m not saying that the dad was wrong to do this, in fact, I find it hilarious and I’m glad her father took action on her rule-breaking. I’m just saying that this is a prime example of why I’m really glad social media wasn’t around when I was her age.

Social media can be used as punishment, like this father did.A father shows his daughter the social consequences of her actions.

Stories come out all the time about people posting dumb things on social media, yet it continues to happen and kids are usually the main culprits. They’re the ones who have grown up with social media from the get-go and should know the most about it! If you learn anything from other people’s mistakes then always, ALWAYS Google first!

Click here to read a few “face-in-palm” examples.

 

Must Pass to Post

So I’m proposing that anyone using social media be required to get a license. Just like you have to take drivers education and pass a test to get a license to drive, you should have to take social media education and pass a test and get a license to use social media. The test would make you acknowledge the various ways you could potentially embarrass yourself or allow others to embarrass you. Or, like you have to practice driving with an instructor, you would have to practice social media with someone who knows the dos and don’ts.

Users should be required to get a license before posting to social media. | GDD Interactive Blog

How helpful and humorous would that be? You would have to get certain “endorsements” to be allowed to post videos, and kids under 18 could only get a provisional license that forces their posts to go through an approval process. Then when you break the social media laws your license could be taken away. We all know someone who should have those privileges revoked!

 

On a More Serious Note

Most of the time, kids just post dumb things. They don’t think before posting or always really believe what they’re saying but are just trying to be “cool.” Let’s give them a bit of a break on those posts. Their parents should be monitoring what they’re doing and saying, but try to avoid snap judgment.

However, in some cases, social posts turn mean and threatening. Cyberbullying affects kids and adults alike — including actress Ashley Judd, who is fighting back against gender-based threats on Twitter.

So set some rules or guidelines for your kids to follow and educate them on how social media will affect them now and in their future. This will help to hold them accountable for their own posts. Times have changed and social media’s not going anywhere, so parents and kids are going to be dealing with this stuff even more as new platforms are created.