Do you have younger kids or siblings that have recently hopped on to the social media train? Besides the horrid obvious threats like child trafficking, we occasionally find ourselves overlooking a really big threat that we openly give our kids access to – SOCIAL MEDIA.
We are raising kids in a cyber society and we cannot necessarily keep them away from social media apps and trends and most importantly if we diligently restrict them they will find ways to make use of it secretly and we need to avoid this scenario by all means. As caregivers, parents, and older siblings we are obligated to ensuring that the little ones are well informed, well educated, and aware of all the threats social media possesses as well as guiding them to using these platforms in the most positive way possible.
Here are FIVE important things we need to practice on social media and teach our kids to practice:
KEEP PERSONAL INFORMATION PRIVATE.
This is an obvious one, have an open conversation with your child about giving out personal information – an address, school name, their cellphone numbers, or anything else considered private to you. Teach your child about location services on social media, actively remind them that they shouldn’t tag their location on every single post, teach them to screen their photos before posting – if there’s a school logo it shouldn’t be posted, car registration, etc. Remember to enforce the ”don’t talk to strangers’ lesson in the cyber universe too.
Bullying has risen so much in the last few years and more especially on social media. Teach your child how to delete comments and how to block people. It is easier to manage the people who follow them and have access to commenting and messaging them by keeping their accounts private. Make sure your child is able to come to you when he/she feels pressured on social media or more especially if someone has said something hurtful to them.
UNDERSTANDING THE PURPOSE OF LIKES.
Everyone on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms is in this insane rat race to acquire thousands of likes on their photos. I am part of the rat race only because I’m trying to build my brand and likes will essentially push up my engagement and reach but if your 8-year-old is on there purely for fun be sure to teach your child that having a dozen likes from strangers isn’t a social presence they should strive for, don’t allow them to find their worth in the number of likes and comments they receive on a photo.
SETTING BOUNDARIES AND KEEPING A BALANCE.
Remember to let your child be a child. Social media is really amazing and can be used positively but maintain a healthy balance of online and offline time. I’m huge on electronic restrictions with my sister and I’m usually in charge of that department when it comes to monitoring her usage and the types of social presence she has. Cellphone usage shouldn’t be just for entertainment purposes but for safety too. Before your child learns how to download games and upload photos, make sure they know how to speed dial you and other adults that are responsible for them, teach them emergency numbers and other safety options. In other words, DON’T RAISE A ROBOT.
DON’T BE IN THE DARK.
Here’s the thing, in most cases, your kid really doesn’t want you on their social media, and if they are older discuss how you can still keep them safe without invading their privacy. Join social media and learn how things work, ask your child to show you how their favorite app works, and utilize this simple trick to get closer to your child and create a positive space between the both of you so they don’t find it necessary to keep you off their page. Understand social media and never look at it as a bad thing, be open-minded and maybe you’ll find a love for these amazing platforms for yourself.