As children are forced to stay home, authorities are warning parents of heightened risks to E safety for kids as children spend more time online to socialise with friends.
However with increased usage and the need to stay connected to friends, comes the increase of potential unwanted and predatory behaviour and incorrect information about the current COVID-19 situation that could cause distress.
Whether you have kids, pre-teens or teens, it’s important to treat social media as you would any other public space. If your kids were with you or heading out with friends to the shops, local parks or skate parks, you would still supervise, monitor or have some idea of where they were. Do the same for social media. After all, even though it’s in the comfort of your own home, social media still opens up your family to the world on a scale that goes far beyond the local parks.
There are several things parents can do to protect their children from unwanted and dangerous predatory behaviours and harmful and incorrect messages being shared online.
E Safety for Kids: 5 Steps for Parents
1. Create a plan
Create a family social media use plan in consultation with your children and stick to it.
Regardless of how old your children are it’s important that this plan is something that everyone agrees to abide by. With this plan you can establish guidelines if these rules aren’t followed then consequences including less time spent online or even no access to your account can be implemented.
In this plan include the following:
- What apps and platforms are permitted to be used and for how long per day.
- That access should be given to parents. (In older teens, ensure them this is precautionary so that you can just check in if you feel there is a need to be concerned. However, it is important to respect them as well to ensure)
- What to do if they feel that something is being said to them that makes them uncomfortable such as blocking the page and reporting it to a trusted family member as well as the platform.
- Allow social media time to be during a time when you can monitor and that they are on the apps in your sight.
- Who can be added to their profiles. For example only people they have met in person, not neighbours of friends they haven’t met. Verified celebrity accounts for those celebrity crushes (because we were all pre-teens and teens once too). Anything that might be a grey area, then that is a discussion to have with Mum or Dad to determine if it is a safe account to follow or not.
“Whether you have kids, pre-teens or teens, it’s important to treat social media as you would any other public space.” | Image: file photo
2. Enforce age requirements
Enforce age requirements based upon app recommendations.
3. Do your research
Learn about the sites your children want to use so you know what they can and can’t do and the potential issues that could arise. It’s important also to look at apps screening processes to ensure there is security.
For example, an app like House Party which is on the rise due to the COVID-19 quarantines, is an app that is live streamed, unfiltered and not moderated. And whilst if a stranger enters the room there is a “stranger alert” anyone can enter any room and start an interaction. By having knowledge of the app, you can work out if your child is mature enough to use it or whether it is better to have this on the not approved apps list.
E safety for kids: Research all apps. | Image: file photo
4. Educate them on catfishing
Educate them on catfishing (someone using a fake profile to communicate with others), cyberbullying, grooming and what constitutes inappropriate online behaviour and why it’s important that the information they read and believe are from credible sources.
Reality check: These conversations won’t be easy however providing a safe space for discussion to educate your kids on these unwanted behaviours means they will be more likely come to you if they are subjected to these behaviours, or at the very least discuss it with a trusted person.
It also means they know what is right and wrong and that behaviour like this is NEVER their fault.
5. Check privacy settings
Check privacy settings on apps regularly and install trusted security with controls on children’s devices.
Ensuring that the apps and their profiles always remain on private means that unwanted behaviour and strangers are less likely to find your children’s profiles.
It’s also important to install trusted security with controls on children’s devices such as Family Zone or Net Nanny to ensure that there is added protection when you can’t monitor activities because of parent duties or work duties.
By working together as a family and having set guidelines to follow, it means that your children remain connected with their friends during this time but there is also protection from the nastier elements of social media and online that can lurk amongst the profiles for your children as well.
Demelza Leonard is a Social Media Expert and Director of DL Social.
This post was first published on Kidspot and was republished on theAsianparent with permission.
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