Kids today are more tech-savvy and connected than ever, and this has put a lot of burden on the parents to keep their children safe in the virtual world. While social media is a great tool to interact and reach out to friends and acquaintances, it does have a dark side, which you, as a parent, need to be well aware of. Today, I will give you five expert tips to ensure your kids stay safe on social media sites and get the most out of them:-
- Educate Your Kids About Social Media Safety
As a parent, you are responsible for educating your kids about the risks of social media and practicing online safety. Talk to your kids openly regarding cyberbullying, peer pressure, identity theft, and the dangers of oversharing or sharing with people they don’t know or trust. Tell them confidently, once they post something on the Internet, they can never know in whose hands it might end up. This may potentially damage their reputation and can have long-lasting consequences. Your kids need to be aware of social media safety basics and trust you enough to tell you if something goes wrong.
- Establish an Age Limit
Most social media sites have a minimum age requirement, which is usually 13 years. It is best to stick to the age requirements instead of providing false information if your kids are going to use the accounts themselves. Make sure your kids use age-appropriate social networks and enter the correct birth year when signing up. It is not a hidden fact that many children below 13 are on social media these days. However, in case you do want your kids to use social networks before the minimum age, you must strictly monitor their social accounts to minimize the risks.
- Monitor Your Kids’ Accounts
Keep a vigilant eye on what your kids do on social media, who they interact with, and what kind of content they are posting or sharing. A phone tracker software can help you remotely monitor your kids’ Internet activity on your cell phone. Moreover, consider implementing parental controls on your kids’ devices and enable the appropriate safety features to prevent them from being exposed to inappropriate content. Make sure they are not sharing details that could jeopardize their character or reputation, and observe who they befriend on social media, and to what extent.
- Set Appropriate Privacy Settings
While kids these days crave popularity and acceptance, teach them the significance of keeping information private and limited to a selected audience. You never know what kind of people lurk in every corner of the Internet, and one wrong click could result in your kid’s personal details landing in the wrong hands. Enable privacy settings on your kids’ social accounts instead of leaving it public, and only let trusted people view them to prevent misuse of the information. Also, go through the social apps’ privacy policies regularly, and keep yourself updated with any changes or updates.
- Set Ground Rules for Social Media
As with every aspect of parenting, you must establish some ground rules for social media as well. Ensure the rules you set are not too strict, otherwise, it would have the opposite effect when your kids secretly attempt to break them. While this may vary from parent to parent, here I am going to share a few general rules to get you started on safe social media usage for your kids:-
- Keep the computer/device in a common area where you can easily keep an eye on what kind of sites your kids’ visit and whom they interact with.
- For younger kids, I suggest you have their account credentials to check up on their social activities from time to time. Older kids will be hesitant in this, so add them in your circle and monitor them through your own account.
- Set time limits on social media usage to encourage children to spend time on other healthy activities outside the virtual world.
When used cautiously and appropriately, social media is an excellent tool for learning and building relationships. Keep yourself aware, and communicate the risks and safety practices with your kids at an early stage to avoid the chances of regrettable actions later.