Social media is a great way to stay informed, connected, and entertained. As parents we know that it is both a blessing and a responsibility. This platform can easily turn from a tool that exposes our children to creativity and opportunity to one full of physical, mental, and emotional dangers.
This post isn’t to encourage you to ban your child from the use of social media. There are many wonderful things the various platforms can be used for. Here are just a few:
- Snapchat allows grandparents and long-distance friends to catch glimpses of everyday life
- Tik-Tok encourages creativity and play
- Facebook allows children to find others with similar interests
- YouTube is both educational and informative teaching kids everything from how to make slime to how to build solar powered kitchens and more
- Pinterest is a great place for the hobbyist to collect inspiration for future projects
But who can keep up with every social media platform! There are hundreds of platforms with more being added daily. With so many available platforms how can you even begin to help your kids avoid social media dangers?
Following are 5 simple strategies you can put into place today to help you stay on top of your kids’ safety without reverting to banning electronics from the home.
Talk to your kids
Be honest with your kids about the dangers of social media and why it is important to protect their private information. Let them know that address and location should never be shared and how to go about telling you if they feel threatened by someone online. Have a plan in place for them in the same way you have one in case of a home fire. Be prepared.
Unplug the technology 30 minutes to an hour before bed time and collect the phones. 40% of 8 to 11 year olds and 71% of 12 to 15 year olds take their phones to bed. This unsupervised time online also deprives them of much needed sleep. Bad decisions are easier to make when exhausted.
Use privacy settings
Go through the privacy settings with your kids. Explain to them why they should never share their passwords with others who might try to later post things in their name or steal their identity. Teach your child how to block people that scare, bully, or threaten them.
Do a self-check
Our children follow our own examples. If they are seeing you constantly on social media, then they will follow suit. Do a self-check every now and then to make sure your own social media habits are safe. Unplug from social media at the same time you require it of the kids. Don’t take it to bed, opt for sleep instead. Make sure your privacy settings are set and have a plan in place for when dangers creep onto your screen.
Monitor their use
Go to the phone store and speak with one of the sales reps about how to monitor your child’s use on social media. Family plans often come with a monitoring system that can allow parents to turn phones into paper weights from their own device as well as track their location. Verizon has what’s called Smart Family. This allows you to place content filters on your child’s phone limiting it to apps that you approve. The system is customizable and puts the control in the parent’s hands.
Social media is not good or bad. It is a tool that comes with both risk and reward. Learning how to use it properly will reduce the dangers. Ignoring the problem simply makes it more dangerous.
Talk to your kids today and put a plan in place for their protection.