Recently, the kiddo and I were on a panel entitled, “Cosplaying With Your Kids” at WonderCon. This was our second panel, and I noticed that there was a lot of interest in both panels on how the parents on the panel handle social media when it comes to our kids.
When I made the decision to start cosplaying with my kid and then opening our own cosplay page and then adding this blog into the mix, I opened the door to both our lives. If we were going to have any kind of presence at all online with our cosplay, that would naturally have to include pictures of my child.
Before asking her if she would like to start a cosplay page with me, I had a heart-to-heart with myself. As we all know, the internet can be a wretched hive of scum and villany, so how do you navigate those waters with your kid and keep their self-confidence intact?
- Best advice is, “Don’t feed the trolls.” I know, I know, women are always expected to, “not make a scene”, “not draw attention to ourselves”, etc. Not feeding the trolls does play into that idea of keeping quiet, knowing your place; but let me make the point here that by not engaging them, you are denying them exactly what they crave and they can’t survive in a vaccuum. I do know how to stand up for myself. I’m teaching Scout that everyday by example. If someone were to say something mean and nasty to my face, never fear that I would engage and stand up for myself. Online life is different. Trolls are a unique animal in this regard. There is no “win” to be had. There is no argument that you can make that will make the troll apologize or walk back their comments. You aren’t going to have a spirited debate with actual points being made and mutual respect being given. That is not what trolls are about.
- Know your kids’ handles and passwords. Have set rules about who they may “friend” or “follow”. All online purchases have to be approved by a parent. Monitor their sites on a regular basis. Now, I know this is very helicopter parent of me. As parents, we have to walk a line between keeping our kids safe and letting them fly around the nest for a bit and learn to navigate the world. Some parents will disagree with this, but I think just like everything else, introduce your kids to social media earlier rather than later. Reason being so you can take them in hand and walk them through it. Help them set up their page. As they get older and more confident in how to handle their online presence, you can back-off and give them their much-needed and much-deserved privacy.
- Talk about basics like not giving out your passwords to your friends, not using your last name, not using your address and/or phone number.
- Respect other parents’ rules for social media. If you have the kids out on a play date, ask the other parent if it is OK for you to post their picture online before you do it. If they are more buttoned down than you are, respect their wishes.
- Lead by example. Be respectful in your comments on someone else’s page. Don’t feed the trolls, etc.
- Another basic rule, if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t type it online!
- Talk to your kids about how easy it is to pretend to be someone else online and that some adults do that to con kids into giving personal information. This is a tough and dark subject, but a necessary talk to have with your child.
- Look online at parenting websites, like commonsensemedia.org for more tips and guidelines.
Not all the news is bad! The internet can also be an amazing place. We’ve had people approach us at cons and at Universal, etc. and introducing themselves because they follow us online. We’ve made scores of friends and met scores more just from our cosplay page and this blog. I’ve had people come up to me and tell me that we inspire them to be more body confident. This never ceases to impress upon me the responsibility that I have taken on. Neither the kiddo nor I take it lightly. Your positive comments and stories constantly inspire us to keep going, keep posting, keep sharing. It has been and always will be a rewarding experience!
If you have more tips, please share them in the comments!
Until next time…
Love, Kim and Scout
*Professional photos by Justin Davidson Photography