Kids would love to own social media and especially teens would love to have at least one social media account. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry there are nearly 60% of teens are on social media (in US alone). And while being online is a good way to keep in touch with friends, it’s important for parents to be proactive about Internet safety.
Unfortunately, there are people who can use your child’s personal information to steal identities, bully them or begin an inappropriate relationship. The family meeting now involves discussions on Internet safety for kids — what parents expect from their children in terms of responsible Internet usage, and discussions about common-sense precautions that will keep kids safe online.
What goes online, stays online: Children often get drawn into peer drama, blowing up the social media sphere with arguments and snarky commentary. Bully behavior may crop up, leaving kids feeling vulnerable and alone. Kids may be quick to take a video and post it online without thinking through the consequences. Parents can do a lot to explain that what goes online stays online.
For parents: Did you know?
- 17% of teens say they’ve been contacted online by someone they didn’t know in a way that made them feel scared or uncomfortable
- 30% of teens say they’ve received online advertising that was inappropriate for their age
- 39% of teens admitted to lying about their age to gain access to websites.
Help protect children from online dangers by following these safety tips:
- Keep your child’s profile private so that only family and people you know see photos, important dates and other information.
- Make sure they’re not posting personal details, including phone numbers, home address, and the name of their school or other types of identity.
- Only allow them to publish photos and videos that do not jeopardize their safety or their integrity.
- Make sure they choose a strong password that cannot be guessed, and that it gets changed every three months.
- Never allow them to accept friend requests from people they do not know.
- Keep an open dialogue with your children. Ask them to let you know if they’ve received private messages from a stranger, or from someone at school who is teasing, harassing or threatening them. Those could be signs of cyber-bullying or even a sexual predator.
- Kids should post only what they’re comfortable with others seeing.
- Remind kids that once they post it, they can’t take it back. Even if you delete the information from a site, you have little control over older versions that may exist on other people’s computers and may circulate online.
- Tell your kids not to impersonate someone else : Let your kids know that it’s wrong to create sites, pages, or posts that seem to come from someone else, like a teacher, a classmate, or someone they made up.
Mobile Safety and Social Media: Internet safety for kids includes mobile. More children have access to the Internet from their phones, tablets and handheld gadgets than ever before. Mobile access also means that kids have the ability to very quickly move to new social media sites before you will ever see the evidence on the family computer. Setting firm rules about joining new sites is key, as is keeping communication open. Ask why your child may feel the need to jump into a new social media site, whether it is to get away from bullying behavior or simply to be a part of a newer, kinder, gentler online community.
Social networking sites, chat rooms, virtual worlds, and blogs are how teens and tweens socialize online; it’s important to help your child learn how to navigate these spaces safely. Among the pitfalls that come with online socializing are sharing too much information or posting comments, photos, or videos that can damage a reputation or hurt someone’s feelings.