Nowadays, everyone is using social media. Most people are networking on several different sites and building up their profiles. Every single kid has an iPhone (usually with a cool pop socket on the back) and use Snapchat and so on. Sure there are plenty of good things about social media, but there are also bad things that come with it. We can try and shield our kids from it, and not get them involved in social media, but the fact is that their friends are doing it. And it is everywhere. So chances are they will do it at their friend's house or library anyway. The best thing to do is to teach children the best way to use social media safely, and what to look out for. It is better to expose them to it but teach them about it - rather than them using it in an unsafe way, without your knowledge.
It is important to talk to your children about how they can use social media safely. Maybe do it during a fun time together; explore how to use different phone accessories and apps and talk about the risks with each.
Is there any benefit to children using social media?
- It can help to enhance their creativity by sharing ideas
- Helps children to keep in touch with family and friends
- There are campaigns, charity and work not to profit that kids can get involved in
- Meet people with similar interests and hobbies
- Communicate with educators and fellow students
What is the bad thing about social media?
The downside is the fact that social media can be the hub for things like cyberbullying and other questionable activities. Kids may share more info and photos than they should online.
People tend to list things like these that often social media asks you to enter
- Interest and birthdates
- Use their real names
- List their school name and town they live in
- Post photos of themselves
Apart from problems like online predators and cyberbullying your kids can face having a physical encounter with someone they shouldn’t. Newer apps have the technology to reveal the location of the poster automatically. Anyone can find out exactly where somewhere is that is using that app.
Once you have posted comments, photos and videos you can delete them, and they appear to be gone. However, they are never completely erased from the internet.
If you post something that is inappropriate, it can damage your reputation and cause problems like when an employer does a background check. Sending texts that are mean-spirited, even if they are just as a prank, can be hurtful to people who can then be at risk of hurting themselves.
What Can Parents Do?
We all tend to snoop at times, but this can damage the trust that you and the kids have built. It can also alienate the children to use social media elsewhere where you cannot supervise. Explain to your children how social media works and how to use it safely and nicely for everyone. Make it clear to your children that they must treat everyone with respect and that it is not ok to post mean and hurtful things. Talk to them about the fact if they receive weird, hurtful or inappropriate messages to not reply or give out any information to let an adult know as soon as possible. Remind kids to think twice about what they are posting as it can be used against them. Don’t post about going away for a holiday as it leaves your home vulnerable to people breaking in.
Teach kids not to be posting things on social media that they don’t want teachers, principles or bosses to see. Ensure kids are not befriending strangers. Make sure you tell then that if they don’t know the person then don’t accept the request.
Ensure kids are using privacy settings. Go through them with the kids and ensure they have an understanding of each one. Explain to children passwords are there to keep them safe and not share them with anyone, even close friends.