How to teach kids to use social media wisely
After hearing horror stories on the dangers of social media, how should parents react when their child wants to become a ‘digital citizen’? Instead of barring children from using social media completely, follow these 7 tips to teach them how to use it safely.
There’s just no escaping social media in this day and age. Even multinational companies use social media on a daily basis and it has proven itself to be a powerful tool in reaching audiences. But that still doesn’t negate the very real dangers that lurk behind Facebook profiles. So where do parents draw the line when children want to create their own accounts? Instead of barring children from using social media completely, follow these 7 tips to teach them how to use it safely.
Stick to site age requirements
Parents should set a good example for children by adhering to age requirements stated by the site. Most social media sites require users to be 13 or above, so do not give in to children’s requests to create an account using a false birth date. Parents have to take the initiative on this one. You can’t rely on social media sites to keep underaged users out.
Set clear ground rules on social media usage
Before allowing children to start using social media, parents should set down clear ground rules that everyone has to abide to. Instead of just general rules like, “Only an hour of internet use a day”, include more specific rules like “No communicating with strangers online” or “Check with us before you upload a new picture”.
Get involved from the very beginning
Ideally, you should guide your child when he is setting up his social media account so that you can learn more about the site and its privacy settings. This way, you can also make sure that your child does not provide extremely personal details like his full name, address or contact number. If the site has a function that ‘blocks’ random users from seeing his pictures or information, remember to enable that.
Educate your child on the dangers of the internet
Instead of just giving your child a whole list of things he shouldn’t do, try to help him understand why these actions could be potentially harmful to him and his family. For example, explain that uploading a picture in which the street name or house number can be clearly seen is not a good idea because strangers will be able to know where your family lives. Most importantly, educate your child about the danger of talking to strangers or accepting their friend requests.
Don’t let kids have a computer in their room
It’s best to have the computer in the living room, or a common space where you can keep an eye on your child without making him feel like you’re directly invading his privacy. Children are less likely to make bad decisions or click on unsuitable links when they know their parents are watching them.
Educate your child about cyberbullying
Explain to your child what cyberbullying means. Tell him that he should approach a trustworthy adult if he finds himself in that situation, or knows someone else who is. Encourage him to refrain from joining in on such behaviour, even if his friends are all doing it. Remind children to treat others as they would be like to be treated.
Act as a listening ear for your child
Remind your child that he can always talk to you if someone is bothering him or making him feel uncomfortable on social media sites. Even if he’s made a mistake, like adding a stranger online, work with him calmly to resolve the issue.