1 What’s the best way to get started?
At TDSU we believe a key to successfully teaching your child new skills is knowing what they are ready to handle. That’s why we suggest you Get Started with a conversation. Find out if your child is interested in social media, and if so, why. Do they want to participate in group texts to feel connected to their friends? Do they want to post the great photos they are learning to take? Are they passionate about the environment and hope to spread their message through social media? Are they eager to post a new dance to TikTok?
Once you know your child’s interests and desires, you can consider where they are developmentally in order to determine the best place to start. If they are not yet demonstrating some of the key social and emotional developmental capacities of a tween – like impulse control, perspective taking, introspection, or the ability to delay gratification – but are eager to engage with social media, you might want to start out with our Text With Your Child activity. This is a safe and effective way to Model responsible social media practices.
If your child is starting to show signs of developmental maturity, and they are expressing an interest in using social media, then maybe you and your child are ready to practice the Thumbs Down skills by using our latest activity: Build Your Trusted Team!
2 My child has been on social media for a while now. Is it too late to get started?
It is never too late for your child to learn the Thumbs Down skills, and it is never too late for you to Speak Up about them! Even though your child has some experience with social media, the TDSU approach can give you the confidence that your child has the skills that they need to be responsible and independent online.
There’s not just one way to get started. At TDSU we provide a range of engaging activities and tips that are regularly updated. You know your child best. Maybe they are the kind of kid who would love to be involved in this process. If so, try out our Build a Trusted Team activity. Or maybe your child doesn’t want to hear about TDSU – that’s ok! You can try out our Permission Before Posting activity to model one of the skills you hope your child will learn.
3 My child doesn’t have social media, and I don’t intend to let them. Why would I need the TDSU approach?
When we say social media, we mean communicating – either with words, images, or both – through a digital medium. So even if your child isn’t on Instagram or SnapChat, maybe they play online video games; email friends, family, or teachers; or text. Or maybe you keep family members up to speed through FaceBook posts which include information or images of your child. The truth is, if your child interacts with their peers, they are being exposed to social media platforms.
Have a conversation with your child about your views about social media and ask them to share theirs. Build A Foundation. Do you use a device? Demystify Your Digital Life. Is your child starting to see things from the perspective of others? Be The School Principal and untangle some thorny issues about interpreting statements with little or no context.
Regardless of whether you plan to allow your child access to social media, we still think the TDSU approach has a lot to offer! Our social-emotional focused resources not only prepare your children for digital citizenry in the event that they do participate in online interactions, but they also enhance the bond you already have with your child.
4 I’ve completed the activities, now what?
Learning takes practice and patience. A key component of the TDSU approach is that we provide ways for you to continue using the Speak Up methods to teach the Thumbs Down skills as your child practices with a small number of friends and family. The best way to keep up with new activities and tips is to subscribe to our newsletter or social media platforms. As your child gains proficiency in implementing the Thumbs Down skills you can consider broadening their access on social media and/or reducing your oversight, keeping in mind that they may make a mistake and need to go back to practicing in a small group setting.
5 Does TDSU provide information on how to use parental controls?
At TDSU we believe that parental controls are an important and necessary step in helping our children learn while staying safe. Our focus, however, is on teaching them the skills that they will need to be responsible during interactions that can still happen when controls are in place, and to eventually be independent users of social media once controls are no longer in use. There are many resources for learning about setting up parental controls and we suggest checking out Common Sense Media.
6 Who should be on our Trusted Team?
Your Trusted Team is made up of people that you and your child can count on to point out what Thumbs Down skills still need work. The focus is on supporting skill development. The people on your child’s Trusted Team understand that learning is a process during which mistakes happen.
When your children are younger, you will work with them to choose who is on their Trusted Team. The TDSU approach grows with your child. As they get older they will come to rely on their peers to be their Trusted Team. Children who learn social media skills using the TDSU approach have integrated the idea that pointing out mistakes is a way to help their friends have a positive and successful social media presence.