Social Media and Internet Safety:

A boy and a girl play on a cellphone.

Our children have grown up with access to TV, video games, social media, texting etc. Because they’ve been surrounded by it their whole lives, they often feel they know how to keep themselves safe in their online interactions, however, that is not often the case. Parents play a vital role in helping their kids learn how to stay safe. Starting from a young age (although it’s never too late to start) there are a few interventions that can help with this process. (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2018)

  1. Make your own family media use plan. This will look different for every family. For
    some guidance here’s a website that helps parents create a plan that works for their family. HealthyChildren.org/MediaUsePlan
  2. Set media limits. About 25% of teens report that they are “constantly connected” to the internet. Help teens disconnect by having electronics turned in at night.
  3. Be a good role model. Model kindness in your interactions online and limit your own media use.
  4. Spend time with them online. Play a video game or watch videos with them. This gives you an opportunity to demonstrate appropriate media use and gives you time to connect with your child.
  5. Do YOUR homework about apps. Know your kid’s and teen’s friends, both online and off. Know what platforms, software, and apps they’re using. Parents are often surprised that their child has social media accounts on sites they didn’t know about.
  6. Keep lines of communication open so your kids/teens can reach out to you with any questions or concerns. Teens will make mistakes with their media use so try to handle errors with empathy.
  7. Practical privacy. Keep computers in a “public” location rather than their bedroom. Trust your child enough to give them room to explore responsibly and don’t violate their privacy without justifiable cause. However, maintain the ability to check up on your teen if they begin to show suspicious behavior. This can be achieved through an internet monitoring app. https://www.safesearchkids.com/best-parental-control-app/#.YxexbXbMK3A

Social media use has pros and cons. Online relationships can be amazing for teens, and social media can support them as they explore and discover more about themselves. However, there are also many dangers to social media and internet use. The following are some guidelines that parents can share with their teens to improve internet safety (SafeSearchKids, 2018).https://www.commonsensemedia.org/articles/online-safety

  1. Don’t add strangers to your friends list. A recent study found that 68% of teens have accepted friend requests from strangers and 8% have accepted every friend request they’ve received.
  2. Keep your posts private and check your privacy settings frequently.
  3. Be careful what you share. Be aware that things you post online may stay there for years possibly affecting jobs and school.
  4. Use good etiquette.
  5. Warn your teens about the dangers of cyber bullying on social media. Nearly 15% of high school students report being bullied online. Online bullying consists of harassment through social media, text message, email, and other messaging platforms. This type of bullying often occurs 24 hours a day. Some online bullying has a sexual component. The misconception is that the teen always sends the compromising material but this isn’t always the case. Warn your teens about the dangers of online predators and sexting. Once they send a message or picture they may not be able to delete it, and the receiver may take a screenshot of it. (Backgroundchecks.org, 2020)

 

References: Admin. (2021, November 18). Parent guide to protecting teens on social media. Safe Search Kids. Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://www.safesearchkids.com/parents-guide-
to-protecting-teens-on-social-media/#.Yxeyc3bMK3C
Cyber bullying: The definitive guide for educators, parents, and family members. Background Checks.org. (2020). Retrieved September 6, 2022, from
https://backgroundchecks.org/cyber-bullying-helping-the-bullied-stopping-the-bullies.html
Kids & Tech: Tips for parents in the Digital age. HealthyChildren.org. (2018, October 8).
Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-
life/Media/Pages/Tips-for-Parents-Digital-Age.aspx

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