Today’s kids are more social media savvy than ever. A whopping 80% of teens online use some form of social media, and they’re sharing more information about themselves on social networks than they have in the past.
While growing up online has its benefits, it poses new risks. Between cyberbullying, oversharing and giving into peer pressure, a child’s misuse of a social network can turn into a serious problem.
Limit usage according to the child’s age.
“Don’t let your children use Facebook or other social networking sites if they are below 13,” Alignay advises. “If you want to let your kids have their own social networking accounts, make sure you screen their contacts and supervise them when they use social media.”
Teach them to protect their identity.
Parents whose kids are on social media should discourage children from “adding strangers and leaving contact details in different sites to prevent them from having ‘digital footprints’.”
“There should be no ‘put-down’ posts of other people,” Alignay cautions, which could lead to incidences of cyber-bullying. “Instead, encourage your child to share only links and posts that would lend help to others.”
Do not give too much information about your whereabouts.
With the rise of kidnapping incidents in the country, there is an increasing need to be vigilant about being careful about the information we share with others.
This especially applies to one’s current location, as divulging such information may make it easier for us — and our children — to fall prey to kidnappers and other undesirable elements.
“Teach your child to stay safe online by never indicating where exactly he or she is at a certain point in time,”
Go easy on the “selfies” and personal posts.
As another safety measure, Alignay encourages parents to restrict their children from posting too many “selfies” on social media.
Don’t post anything your parents (or grandparents!) and future children would not approve of.
This probably goes without saying but it should be said anyway: “Make sure that your child knows that he or she should not use language or photos that are provocative,” or create content even if there is no intent to post them, because they could be misused by others to your child’s disadvantage.”
This is one way to teach your child to respect one’s self and one’s body, and to respect others as well.
Set guidelines or rules.
Establishing a set of guidelines or rules is a great way to instill positive social media habits in your child. For example, set a time limit for how long your child spends on social media during the week. You could also set specific times for you and your child to go online together and practice social media safety.
But don’t set rules that are too rigid, Loewen advises. “Find a middle point where your child feels empowered to make good decisions without having to hide from you,”
Know all the passwords.
Last, but certainly not the least, help your child stay safe on social media by requiring that you know the passwords to all their social media accounts.
Ultimately, like almost anything else in this world, social media can be a good thing if used responsibly and within the proper limits. Let’s help the latter be true for our kids and keep them safe by teaching them how to use social media properly.