Digital devices are influencing the lives of today’s children in a variety of ways, particularly because they are more approachable and appealing to younger children than ever before.
According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 76% of parents in the United States own a cellphone and 78% own a laptop. The ubiquity of these internet-enabled gadgets has given rise to the use of social media among kids as well.
Raising kids in the age of social media can be daunting especially for new parents. Social media is fraught with potential dangers but it can also be a very rewarding tool for emotional growth and social development when used the right way.
So don’t leave things to chance; use these pointers to set yourselves up for a successful long term relationship with social media and your kids.
SET GROUND RULES AND EXPLAIN THE REASONS BEHIND THEM
Children old enough to be using social media are old enough to understand that certain rules need to be in place.
Discuss the importance of these rules and emphasize that the primary reason for them is to keep them safe. You may also want to talk to your child about the very real dangers lurking in the internet from scams to sexual predators.
Always keep communication open between you and your child regarding their use of the internet and gadgets. This way you can adapt your preexisting safety measures and rules to changes.
LEARN THE TECHNOLOGY
As a parent it is your responsibility to know what things your child is getting into and this applies to social media as well.
Before letting your child use social media platforms, take time to research the reputation of the website, learn the features and familiarize the user demographics. Staying one step ahead or at the very least in step with your young child will help you in keeping your child safe and protected online.
DISCUSS DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS AND ONLINE IDENTITY
Children who are new to social media might not be aware of the permanence of so-called digital footprints. These digital footprints are photos, videos, messages and any other form of transmittable information which have been posted online. Explain to your child how things they share on social media help shape their online identity and these might impact how they are perceived by others. Share safety practices and the importance of thinking carefully before sharing any personal information, tagging them, uploading photos or sharing their friends’.
USE PARENTAL CONTROL SOFTWARE
Consider investing in parental control software. These types of applications are equipped with a range of features designed to keep home internet safe and secure for everyone. Some common features include blocking access to sites that have been flagged as inappropriate for children, tracking the people who your child interacts with online, logging down the websites your child visits and more. There is parental control software that is even free for download.
SET STRICT PRIVACY SETTINGS
A website’s privacy settings lets you control who is able to view your child’s profile, add him or her or send messages. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the privacy features of social media and help your child set up their privacy settings to high. This move will help you significantly minimize interactions with strangers and who gets access to your child’s personal information.
PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH
You are your child’s number one role model in real life and this responsibility is no different in the online world. Monitor your online habits and gadget use to make sure you are not setting a negative precedent to your young one.
Take your child’s newfound interest in social media as an excellent opportunity for you to learn and navigate the internet world together.