Teaching kids to be smart about social media
Whenever the talk turns to social media, a lot of parents find themselves wondering if they really know what their kids are up to online.
Pretty much everyone is on social media these days, and with the growing number of online networks—Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat are just the tip of the iceberg—it can sometimes be difficult to know where your kids are “hanging” out.
Getting the conversation started is important whether you’ve got teens in the family who’ve been online for years or young kids who are just starting to take an interest in it.
Here are a few points to help both you and your children be social media savvy:
- Find out more about the sites your children use and what the privacy policies and settings are. Many sites have a minimum age limit of 13 years so it’s up to you to make sure your children adhere to that. If you haven’t already done so, you can set up your own account so that you’re familiar with the site and be aware of any changes to the privacy settings that the site developers introduce.
- Explain to your children that it’s important not to reveal too much information about themselves or your family. This applies to anything they write or photos they post. Some ground rules could include that they don’t identify your family name, where they go to school or the city you live in.
- Tell them you’d like to join their network. Some kids might balk at this, but if you feel very strongly about it, you can make it a rule for being on social media in your house.
- Talk to them regularly about their experiences online, both good and bad. If you think they’re worried or anxious about something, reassure them that they can tell you anything about what’s happening in their networks.
- Help them be aware of cyberbullying. Your kids might know all about it but not know what to do if it happens to them. Let them know they can talk to you or their teacher if they feel they’re being cyberbullied. Also make sure they understand the importance of talking to other people online the same way they would want to be spoken to themselves.
- Make sure they understand that anything they write or post lasts forever. Even sites like Snapchat, which let you decide how long your image is online before it disappears, can’t really promise that it’s gone forever.
- Set time limits for being online especially on school nights when homework should be a priority. Work out a schedule in your house that lets your kids know when and for how long they’re allowed to use the computer.