Social Media Safety for Kids: 7 Powerful Tips for Parents
About every parent teaches their kids not to talk to strangers. While many of these parents also do a good job of enforcing that teaching, you don’t want to be a part of those who leave out one important angle – social media.
If your kid is on social media already, chances are the majority of people they meet there are strangers. If not properly checked, your kid could be subjected to harassment, cyber bullying, pornographic content and much more.
That does not always have to be, though. Here are some tips to help keep your kid protected when browsing their favorite social media networks.
1 Know What You Are Up Against
You cannot protect your kids against a threat you never knew existed – which makes knowing the battlefield an important first step.
There was a time when the only social media networks were Myspace and Facebook. Today, we have a ton of them and more waiting to be developed.
Familiarize yourself with all of WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and any other social media network you kid could be on before any other thing.
2 Verify Privacy/ Security Settings
Social media networks are continually improving their platforms to keep user data private and safe. They are also implementing measures that will make it harder for others to figure out the personal details of any one user – should the said user choose to use it.
As a parent, ensure your kid has their privacy and security settings up to date.
3 Set an Age Limit
The world is going digital, and it is almost the new cool to allow your kids into that trend too. While we are not against making sure they get all the exposure they need, it is also wisdom to make sure they hold off on knowledge that might be beyond their age grade.
Thus, we recommend setting age limits for when your kids can access certain social media networks. Social media platforms like Facebook already have a 13-year minimum age policy in place, but that does not stop some 7.5 million kids on the platform who are younger than 13 from creating an account anyways.
As your kid grows up, you can let them add more social media platforms to the list of those you approve.
4 Follow Your Kids
It is either many parents give no thought to following their kids on social media, or they simply do not know what they are missing out on by not doing this.
You cannot always be online to see what happens, but when you follow your kids, their updates get fed into your timeline.
On the one hand, this is a great way to keep a tight lid on things. You will always know what happens with them online before it goes out of hand, and can correct them in the case of any mishandling of their account. On the other hand, a kid who knows they are being followed by their parents will naturally be better behaved.
5 Have ‘The Talk’ With Your Kids
The sex talk is not the only serious talk parents need to have with their kids. In fact, there are a host of others – and social media happens to be one of such touchy subjects.
Why would you even need to have the talk?
It might interest you to know that there is a real thing called ‘Facebook depression’ syndrome. Although named after Facebook, it is applicable to any and all social media networks.
Basically, the condition is an emotional response to seeing the perfect lives that others portray on social media. This could make a kid believe their life is not as great, leading them down the path of depression in an instant.
Besides, cases of cyber bullying come up almost every day, and a large percentage of parents do not know about this. That is not to mention other dangers of social media from unscrupulous individuals who will pose as friends to your kids.
When having the talk, let your kids know that you support their foray into social media, but they need to be safe too. Let them in on the many dangers and consequences of social media networks, but make sure you are not condescending in your approach.
That way, you can have them prepared for some of the things they will meet out there.
6 [For Much Younger Kids] Set Up the Account Yourself
There is no crime in setting up your kid’s account for him/ her. This ensures their profile doesn’t leak any more information than considered harmless, keeping their privacy safe.
Likewise, this gives you access to their dashboard so you can always login to check for inappropriate content or messages.
7 Make Their Accounts Private
Some social media networks allow you keep your profile private. Thus, only confirmed social media friends will see updates from such an account. Going this route for your kid will:
- Ensure they can keep using social media, only safely
- Keep their content to those they have trusted enough to add as friends. It is recommended that you vet their friends list here
- Protect them from internet predators, cyber bullies and all others in such classes, and
- Increase your peace of mind about their online safety.
It would be a fallacy to claim social media doesn’t have a good side to it. However, the internet houses people from all walks of life – which makes it just as dangerous (if not more). Implementing the above tips, you can always make your kid’s social media experience a memorable one.
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