How much social media is too much

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, talks about why and how parents can monitor their children's cell phone and social media use in order to keep them safe
Parenting Advice | Monitoring and setting limits for your child's social media and cell phone use
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How much social media is too much

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I think some guidelines that we offer for parents, social media for teens, is to understand the differences in the age. Certainly when children are younger, and they're walking around with iPads and iPhones all day long is to make sure that they stay out of their room. That way you have, once they have it in their room and they have it, the older they get, you're not going to be able to get it out of their hands. So try and keep it in open places, and certainly set time limits. The older that the teen gets, now in middle school when they don't want you to look at their phone, when they don't you to have the password to any of their social media sites, I think that you need to set the guidelines letting them know that if they have this technology, you're not going to check on it every single day, but you do pay for that, you are their parent, and you do have the right to know what they're doing on social media and on their phones. I think that when parents now have students who get into high school, it's kind of a different transition. We know what we're trying to do is raise them to be adults that can go out in this world and conquer anything they want. So we know we can't go to college with them and sit in the dorms and look at their cell phones. I think hopefully by this point, still we want to monitor. We still want to know what they're doing. But we have to start letting go of some of those rules of okay, you can only be on the phone for 30 minutes today. That's not going to work. So I think it really starts from a young age. And then it moves up into the high school age. My daughter is 17, and I still know the password to her cell phone, and what I usually do is if I see her behavior changing. If I see that for a day or two she's really isolated, doesn't want to talk, she goes in her room and closes the door, the only way that parents know what's going on is many times looking at their social media to see. Many times kids put their whole life out there. So as a parent, it is our right to know that. We just want to make sure that as a parent we don't want to overstep our boundary. Because what they'll do is they'll hide it very good. They'll make sure they keep everything from us. And that's what we don't want them to do. We want to make sure that if they are struggling, if they are going through a situation, that they are able to come to us as parents.

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, talks about why and how parents can monitor their children's cell phone and social media use in order to keep them safe

Transcript

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Tina Meier

Executive Director

Tina Meier is an internationally recognized expert on bullying, cyberbullying, internet safety, conflict resolution, the roles of parents and educators, sexting, and suicide awareness and prevention.

On October 16, 2006, Tina Meier’s life took a devastating turn when her 13 year old daughter, Megan Taylor Meier, took her own life. All attempts were made to save Megan, but unfortunately Megan passed away on October 17, 2006, just weeks from her 14th birthday.

Approximately 5 weeks prior to her passing, a 16 year old boy by the name of Josh Evans, contacted Megan through her MySpace account and they began a friendship. Tina Meier, allowed Megan to have a MySpace account with many restrictions and under her watchful eye.  Unfortunately, on that fateful day of October 16, 2006, Josh Evans and Megan began to have an argument over MySpace.  A few others joined in and horrible and hurtful messages and bulletins went out publicly to hundreds of kids. The last words that were said to Megan from Josh were, “The world would be a better place without you” and “Have a shi**y rest of your life.”

Six weeks after Megan’s suicide, Tina Meier was informed that Josh Evans never existed. In fact, he was the fictitious creation of Lori Drew, an adult neighbor that lived down the street, her 13-year-old daughter Sarah, which was Megan’s former friend, and an 18-year-old employee that worked out of Lori Drew’s home.

In December of 2007, Tina Meier, founded the 501 (c)(3) non-profit Megan Meier Foundation.  The Foundation’s mission is to “create awareness, education and promote positive change to children, parents and educators in response to the ongoing bullying and cyberbullying in our children’s daily environment.” Tina’s hope is to make a difference through spreading Megan’s story, create awarness regarding internet safety, and educate others on the consequences of bullying and cyberbullying. She hopes to help one child at a time cope with these negative social issues. Ultimately, her goal is to empower children to be the change and continue the Foundation’s mission.

At the time of this tragedy, the State of Missouri did not have laws in place to prosecute someone using electronic communications to cyberbully another person. Tina worked closely with Senator Scott Rupp and Governor Matt Blunt’s Internet Task Force for the State of Missouri to help pass Senate Bill 818, which went into law on August 28, 2008. This law amended the harassment and stalking laws to include electronic communication.

Each year, Tina travels throughout the country as a keynote speaker addressing the issue of bullying and cyberbullying in today’s world to students, educators, administrators, parents, youth rallies, counselors, law enforcement, and other professionals. Through Tina’s inspirational and educational message, the audience is empowered to make a difference not only for themselves, but others also.

Tina has continued to spread the Foundation’s message and Megan’s story through national and international media appearances such as network television stations, radio, news shows, magazines and syndicated talk shows. She also accepted a Presidential invitation to attend the 2011 White House Anti-Bullying Conference, presented at the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug Free Schools National Conference in Washington, DC, and served as a consultant during the production of the ABC Family movie, Cyberbully.

Tina Meier resides in St. Louis, Missouri, with her daughter Allison. 

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