Teach kids to love and respect social media

How a parent found a way to help her teenage daughters love and respect social media.

Mamamia Writer Jo Abi was lucky enough to meet and interview Yumi Stynes and learned a thing or two about raising teenage daughters.

“Ten years ago teenage girls were forced to interact with each other face-to-face."

Social media was in its infancy and while text-bullying was an option, bullying and fighting mostly took place in the school yard.

Nowadays we need rules for screen times, rules for technology and rules for social media, all aimed at keeping our children safe.

Now teenage girls carry with them a device that invites bullying into their lives at all times.

It means that modern day parenting requires a bit of snooping, for our children's own good.

Writer, presenter and mother-of-four Yumi Stynes is unapologetic about trawling through her teenage daughter's phones. It's the only one of the many social media rules she implements in her family.

Yumi's daughters are Anouk, 14, Dee Dee, 12, Mercy, two-and-a-half and a one-year-old baby whose nickname is "Man Baby".

Her two eldest, from her first marriage to Ben Ely from Australian band Regurgitator, are in high school and have had phones from a young age. So that both parents could communicate with them while they share custody.

Mercy and Man Baby are with husband Martin Bendeler whom she married in 2012.

Born in Swan Hill in Victoria, Yumi Stynes began her career on Channel V in 2000 before moving to music channel MAX and then joined high-profile TV talk show The Circle on Channel Ten with Chrissie Swan, Denise Drysdale and Gorgi Coghlan which was axed in 2012.

Yumi then co-hosted The 3PM Pick-Up for the Australian Radio Network with Chrissie Swan in 2011 and co-hosted a breakfast radio show for the same network with Sami Lukis in 2013.

These days Yumi appears on several TV shows including The Project and hosts a cooking channel on YouTube.

She is also a woman with two girls navigating the difficult world of high school.

Yumi says both girls love their phones and look after them, but she still keeps an eye on their use, particularly when it comes to social media.

"They love their phones, you know, just like we do, so they're pretty good with the phones but I do have their pass codes so I can read their text messages," Yumi said on The Parent Code podcast.

She says it's not because she was overly concerned about their interactions online, but because she was curious about what they were getting up to.

"I love knowing what's going on in their lives," Yumi said. "I think that they're at their tender age and I want to make sure they're being good people."

So for Yumi, teaching her teenage girls not to engage in bad behaviour online begins offline and as social media rules goes, that's not difficult to do and there's no part of their lives learning to be kind won't help.

"And if we're at dinner and something comes up about somebody, it's so fun to pile on and add to it, but we really try not to. So I just keep an eye on stuff like that."

"If she's talking about someone, I'll pull it back in."

Yumi says social media is where most bad behaviour happens. "The big one - the 12-year-old not so much - but the 14-year old loves Instagram because you just private message through that. So that seems to be her main mode of communication with her buddies but also Snapchat."

That's the other aspect of teens and technology parents have to juggle - social media rules that apply to multiple social media platforms. It can seem impossible to stay on top of it all.

Yumi follows her daughter on Instagram and Snapchat and has never had to address any inappropriate postings yet, fingers crossed.

"She's never done anything that's made me cringe," she said.

It's nice to know that to help our children, in particular our teenagers, navigate technology and social media we don't need to stand over them with strict rules.

Like Yumi, we can simply engage openly and honestly with our kids, follow them online, have fun with technology and social media and most importantly, teach them how to behave offline so their online behaviour is kind, decent and considered.

Listen to the full episode of The Parent Code with Jo Abi and Yumi Stynes.

To subscribe to The Parent Code in iTunes go to apple.co/mamamia where you'll find all of our shows in one place and any books written by the many Mamamia guests.

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