Today, children are more social media savvy than ever before. They are exposed to social media from a young age and often encouraged by their peers to take part in using social networking sites to interact and play. Today, social media use is almost universal among teens and a reported 81 percent of teens believe that social media helps them stay more connected with their friends and well supported by others.
While growing up in the digital age has its benefits, it also comes with a list of new risks. When engaging online, children face challenges like cyberbullying, peer pressure, hackers and exposure to mature content. However, with the right approach, parents can help their children safely and successfully navigate the world of social media.
Below are five simple tips to help parents ensure that their child stays safe when using social networking sites.
Learn About Social Media
We encourage parents to learn about social media. It’s a simple, yet effective step to help scholars stay safe online. We believe that when parents have a basic understanding of different social networking sites they can more effectively monitor their child’s activity on social media to ensure their safety. Parents may also want to create their own personal accounts on several different social media sites. By doing so, they may be able to more effectively monitor their child’s activity while also staying aware of the ongoing changes and trends on social media.
We also encourage parents to understand the difference between each social networking site and how their children use them. For example, some sites are primarily for sharing pictures, some for videos and some sites have private messaging features. When parents have a basic understanding of each site they can successfully monitor their child’s activity and set appropriate privacy settings and restrictions.
Here are a few of the most popular social networking sites that parents can explore:
Establish an Age Limit & Usage Guidelines
Today, social media is of interest to children of all ages, even elementary schoolers. Parents with young children may want to consider setting an age limit that specifies when they can start using social media on their own. Until their children are of age, parents may want to allow their young children to explore their own social media accounts as a way of safely introducing the use of social media.
Regardless of age, we encourage parents to set clear social media guidelines to ensure their children stay safe. Some guidelines to consider are setting a time limit on how long or how often a child can use social media each week. Other guidelines might include refraining from accepting new friend requests until a parent has approved them. Parents can create a custom set of social media guidelines depending on their child’s age and personal interests.
Monitor Their Social Media Activity
This is arguably one of the most critical steps to ensure that children are safely using social media. Unfortunately, cyberbullying is a real challenge that children face, especially when using social media. Cyberbullying is dangerous and can have severe negative impacts on a child’s self-esteem. Parents can support their children and help them avoid becoming victims of cyberbullying by monitoring their activity on social media. It’s important that parents take the time to read any comments or private messages that have been shared with their child on social media. Actively monitoring their social media sites can help parents stay more aware and allow them to address any concerns of cyberbullying if they arise.
Parents may also want to monitor their child’s social media activity to ensure that they are not interacting with strangers and also to review the types of the content that their children are viewing to ensure it is age appropriate.
Check Privacy Settings
Depending on a child’s age, parents can consider setting strict privacy settings on their child’s social media accounts. Adjusting privacy settings can help children stay safe by protecting their personal information, limiting their exposure to mature content and restricting them from interacting with strangers. Setting strict privacy settings when using social media can also help protect the computer from getting a virus or overrun by hackers.
Talk About Using Social Media
We strongly encourage parents to have open, honest conversations about the positives aspects of social media and the dangers of using it with their children. Social media is a great way for children to stay connected with friends and family that live far away. It also serves as a great tool for sharing creative ideas and opinions. However, the harsh reality is that it is also a place where children can be bullied, targeted by hackers or exposed to inappropriate content. We encourage parents to allow their children to speak openly and honestly about their experiences on social media. By doing so parents are often able to stay more aware of their child’s activity and help them stay safe when using social networking sites.
Compass Charter Schools (CCS) is a WASC-accredited virtual charter school that serves families throughout California. Interested in learning more about CCS’ flexible academic programs? Visit our website, or contact our enrollment team at [email protected] or (877) 506-8631.