Many of us feel that our kids spend too much time on social media. That’s a real concern when you factor in the potential downside of using social media versus the upside.
We’re all familiar by now with the downsides:
- Being exposed to bullying
- Feeling left out
- Not living up to artificial standards conveyed on social media
- Sleep disruption
- Anxiety, depression, loneliness
- Potential damage to reputation
In regard to the last item, reputational damage, there is no shortage of heartbreaking stories related to some frankly stupid things that young people have done on social media which have caused serious setbacks for themselves and their families. There is this story of the successful Minneapolis grocery/food brand that was nearly destroyed when old tweets by the owner’s daughter saying some deplorable but frankly stupid things in her youth surfaced.
Then there is the story of the young woman who achieved her dream of being accepted to an elite sports program at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, only to have her dream dashed by someone who had a video of her as a young girl saying the N word, once, on video.
In fact, some of these would also apply to adults; well, I can only speak for myself, but between you, me and the doorknob, my rare forays in Facebook leave me incredibly depressed. My timeline is filled with updates from “friends” (i.e., people I barely know) depicted in beautiful locales, wearing beautiful clothes, with a beautiful family beautifully decked out in current travel-season wardrobe.
I see them basking on their many family vacations to places like Italy; or glowing at the base of an Aspen ski slope; cavorting on jet skis along the Riviera.
Am I happy for them? Not really. Why should I be? I’m barely making mortgage and groceries in the same month. Also, I happen to know the whole Facebook thing is just for show; I know that the minute before that photo is taken, and the minute after its taken, their lives, as financially privileged as they might be, are saddled with the same basic concerns I have. I think. Sort of.
LinkedIn is different
For all those reasons and discontents, some of which may be petty, I wouldn’t recommend social media for my kids.
But LinkedIn is the exception. The site now allows kids as young as 16 to create profiles and once they do, they have an opportunity to learn so much about the world of work.
While us grown-ups might think of networking as a way to expand our career opportunities or increase our income, for students LinkedIn can be a way of connecting with teachers, administrators, coaches and potential mentors.
LinkedIn provides kids with an opportunity to start thinking about how they want to present their skills, talents and achievements to the world. It’s organized in a way that encourages kids to think about their work, their values and their passions; to get inspired by seeing how others are navigating the world of work.
LinkedIn offers a place to upload a “portfolio” — including projects, videos (demonstrating, for example, musical or theatrical training and abilities).
It provides them with an opportunity to understand things like job requirements, certifications, salaries, and levels of various positions.
As they connect and follow others, they’ll be able to see how people put themselves out in the world, how people market themselves, with posts, articles, messages and other types of content.
As far as whether your kids are interested in signing up for LinkedIn, just follow this woman’s of advice, and let them know that in term of jobs, career and income it’s the most important social media platform around.