Social media is everywhere. Hey, even we’re on it! It is rare that you meet someone you can’t connect with online. As adults, it’s easy for us to understand the rules of social media and be able to filter who and what we associate ourselves with. However, as kids start to find interest in social media, there are some things as parents and guardians you might want to consider. Just as you think you understand one social media outlet, there is a new one that kids are navigating. From Facebook to Snapchat, here are some helpful tips for you to make sure your kids are safe online.
- Feel comfortable talking about social media and online safety.
- Most kids can use social media responsibly. But, simply talking about what outlets they belong to, who they are connected with and what they are posting in a responsible and respectful manner will help your child understand social media rules. Set boundaries for their internet use and app downloads.
- Ask to see what they’ve posted
- Checking in on them every so often to see if they are engaging in dangerous behavior can help prevent bigger problems. Teach them that their privacy is important. The old credence “Don’t talk to strangers” is especially important online, where it often seems less threatening, but can be even more dangerous than in person.
- Check the default settings of their profile
- You’ll want to ensure they have their profiles set to “locked” or “private” so that predators or other ill-intentioned people won’t have access to their information and photos. You’ll also want to turn off the location settings in the phone and the app, because the social media outlet can track and post your child’s location. Make sure they aren’t ever giving out private information online.
- Be aware of what’s new and what is popular with kids
- You may not even know all of the outlets your child is using to connect with people online. Obviously, you can’t keep up with every tech update and change; however, checking their phone for new apps or new log-in information can make sure you know what their online presence is and how they are using that outlet. It’s ok to limit how many apps they engage with or social media profiles they have.
- Talk about cyberbullying.
- It’s a terrible thing our kids have to endure these days. However, education regarding online bullying can lead to prevention or, in the very least, support to help it stop. Kids need to know that they can talk to you if they are experiencing it or someone they know is experiencing it. A great resource to learn more about prevention can be found here: http://www.cyberbullying.us/
Social media is wonderful to help connect the world. You can stay in touch with friends and family in ways that never used to be possible. However, there are dangers with social media and kids can often become targets. You should consider talking to your kids about responsible online behavior, even before they have their own profiles. Make sure you are monitoring them in a healthy way. For more information or more ideas on online safety, you can always talk to your local Friendly Computers!