The current generation of kids is more social media savvy than you can imagine. It is estimated that a staggering 80% of teenagers online are signed up on some form of social media platform, sharing information about themselves on these sites. As internet savvy as these kids have become today, it is imperative that parents stay head of what they are up to online. While there are numerous benefits to growing up online, we can’t deny the many risks and pitfalls that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter pose. From cyberbullying to negative peer pressure and nudity, a teen’s misuse of the social network can turn into a major issue. The following are best practices that parents can apply to ensure online safety for their kids while using these social sites.
Educate yourself about the social sites
Parenting experts advice that adults should take the time to perform due diligence on the different social media networks available today and learn what their children are exposed to. Being conversant with the popular social sites places you in a good position to better comprehend how each platform works. It should also interest you to create your own account and create a personal profile just to get a firsthand experience. When parents understand the differences between sites like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc, they have a better idea of the risks each social site exposes their kids to. This enables them to monitor their children and possibly limit the exposure to such undesired information.
Establish age limit
If you are planning to let your kids access social media, then it is only natural that you establish an age when they become legible. However, you need to be careful on this one because when the young ones feel like it’s not happening anytime soon, they are bound to create accounts behind your back and set up secret profiles. When choosing an age limit for social media legibility, you can consult the terms of the most social media apps; most of which place the minimum age at 13 or older. The important thing here is to make sure that you kids are disciplined enough to follow the directive until they reach an age at which they are less vulnerable to the dangers of social media.
Tell your kids about the social media risks
Sometimes it is good to be proactive and straightaway talk to your kids about the dangers lurking behind their favorite social media sites. Once you realize that you can’t social media-proof your home, it is easier to let them know the consequences that arise from using social media apps. This is because kids tend to downplay how easily the information they post can be accessed by strangers, some of whom might end up being stalkers with ill intentions. Talk to them about the pictures and comments they post, and just how these may end shaping their future lives and even careers. By telling your children about the dangers of social media, they are more likely to give it a second thought before posting a picture or sharing their addresses online.
Set rules and guidelines
Parents can also establish rules or a set of guidelines to instill desirable social media habits in their kids. For instance, you can set time limits between which your child is allowed to spend in front of a computer during the week. You could also ban the use of social media when it is late in the night or have an arrangement where both you go online together to practice different forms of social media safety. However, be careful not to set guidelines that would seem too rigid, you don’t want your child to feel discriminated against. Try to find a middle ground where your kid feels empowered to openly make the right decisions.
Another easier way to add a layer of online safety is to use the parental control feature provided by the different social media apps. This allows you to know when your kid signs up for a social media account on their computer. It also shows you the name, age, address and any other details they use on their profile. Being privy to all this information gives you crucial insight into your child’s online activity and enables you to dictate which apps they end up using. In this way, the teen is free to safely use the online platforms for the greater good whereas parents get to effectively supervise their children with the intention of protecting them from various social media risks.