I am a parent of 3 girls, two grown and one still a teenager.  I am the ultimate protector…having taught them, no…DRILLED in them, the dangers of strangers both near and online.

We all know the negative aspects of social media: Cyberbullying, online deception and even the worst possible outcomes that Social Media can produce.   We as parents always seem to look at all the negatives, and that is OK. It is our job to do so…to protect our children from what they seem so naïve to pick up.

But have we taken a moment to look at all the positive outcomes of Social Media? Why are our children so obsessed with it? What in the world could they be getting out of all of it that keeps them online for hours?

My daughter just recently set up “Snap Chat” on my phone (She laughed at me because I called it “A Snap Chat”. That for all of you that don’t realize, like I didn’t, is wrong… It is just “Snap Chat”). I spent a good hour playing with Snap Chat. Taking photos of myself (so out of character), adding silly and grotesque filters, and more so belly laughing at the results! I grew up thinking photos had to be “perfect”. You looked your best (or as best as possible), you posed for them, did your hair and make-up and most of all discarded them if they looked or made you look “bad”. Now here I was intentionally distorting the photos of myself and sending them to others!  That got me to thinking….If a social media site could help me “loosen up”. If I could learn to accept myself in any form and laugh at myself while doing so, then how bad could most of it be? What other areas could Social Media have a positive effect?

Social Media helps children find and/or accept their identity. It gives them a space to fit in. With so many groups of different people, one can feel that there are others out there with similar thoughts, values and beliefs. They are not alone.

Social media teaches acceptance. We gain knowledge on different cultures and customs, having friends around the world. It bridges gaps and teaches us that being different is ok.

“YouTube” has almost every video you can think of. One can learn how to do any kind of repair, to cook, and to exercise, to name just a few. Knowledge is golden.

Many websites promote creativity and individuality. They let you showcase your talents for the world to see. Look how many people get “discovered” via these sites today.

It is definitely our job to protect our children. With that being said, the next time you hear your children laughing out loud because of what they are viewing or doing on the internet, engage yourself with them. Ask them if you can sit down and watch too. Become part of their world….show interest in what they love.  You will be amazed at some of the creative things you will find!