Are you struggling to find balance between providing your kids with the best and latest things in life while trying to save your children from being swallowed by the trends and demands of social media and peer pressure? Well, you’re not alone. With each new child suicide case caused by cyberbullying or every new case of a child going missing after meeting a stranger found on social media, you can’t help but wonder if social media is actually a safe place for your kids.
If we, as adults, are struggling to cope with the pressures and brutality of social media as it is, then how much worse are the dangers of social media for kids? With the internet having so much room for people to express themselves however they wish, we tend to suffer and die on the inside from facing personal challenges of our own, like a divorce after a failed marriage.
Adults have grown to become afraid of this social voice, and the true brutal nature of the internet has affected so many individuals who are experiencing troubles related to self-worth and confidence. Therefore, if we as adults have witnessed the effects and dangers of social media, are we really being paranoid for not wanting to expose our kids to these issues?
Social Media: An Overview
Let’s look at how social media has created a platform for kids to connect, share, and document personal experiences. On the one hand, this has positive results in allowing your child to be part of communities joined by other children their age. And since there’s now a huge transition to virtual communication, this means ensuring that your kids also have the necessary things like mobile devices to keep your child connected.
If we look back at our childhood days in the 20th century, connecting with other kids meant actively going to the park, inviting friends over to play, or sitting around with your ideal group of friends at school. Nowadays, the nature of connecting has changed, and communication now lies heavily on how much we interact with one another online. This new reality now forces parents to keep themselves well-informed and aware of the different technologies and platforms that their kids are on to take protective measures to ensure that their kids are kept safe at all times.
When we refer to social media, what exactly are we referring to? These are the websites, apps, and platforms that individuals use to interact with one another in sharing content and experiences. These include platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, and many more that the youth regularly use.
However, social media serves different purposes outside of the main purpose of interacting with others. It also works to establish online profiles, create a fan base of followers, connect people through chat features, build stories and timelines, share videos and photos, vlog personal experiences, join groups of like-minded people, play online games, and allow individuals to explore romantic connections with others. This makes social media and its unending platforms available for people to really make the most out of it.
Keeping Your Kids Safe While Using Social Media
As we’ve already mentioned, it’s important to ensure that you, as a parent, are aware of the different technologies and platforms that your kids are using. This ensures that you can take the necessary steps to remain cautious of your kids and social media habits at all times and know how to deal with any red flags that may present themselves.
The following are some things you can do to achieve this:
- Age restrictions set by platforms are not enough as children can outsmart these; therefore, you should always be aware of the platforms your kids are using.
- Privacy does not exist when it comes to kids as you have a responsibility to protect them, therefore, ask questions and show interest.
- Keep mobile devices in common spaces of the house that can allow you to monitor your child’s actions.
- Get programs that allow you to have parental control over websites.
- Be part of your child’s fan base by following their social accounts.
- Establish a friendly relationship with your kids to show interest in how they established relationships with new friends.
- Educate your child about meeting new friends in person and share information about the importance of meeting in public spaces and having parental supervision present.
- Draw boundaries on what’s acceptable to share. If the child wouldn’t be comfortable sharing that post with a teacher or parent, then they shouldn’t put it up.
- Teach your child about being unable to control what others say and post about them.
- Please encourage your child to avoid using autocorrect while typing, as it can lead to unnecessary misunderstandings.
- If your child is at the age of dating, discuss the importance of having a healthy and safe relationship.
Social Media Dangers Parents Should Look Out for
If your child participates in any one of the following activities, you need to take the necessary action to intervene and stop the behavior.
This is when kids on social media send or receive sexually explicit content using messages, images, or videos on a smartphone. Emails can also be another popular space for such to happen.
This is when people are bullied online with the sole purpose of harassing or intimidating others. It can be done in different ways, such as sending harsh messages via email, posting harsh comments online, sharing images and photos online without the owner’s permission, or deliberately excluding someone from a group chat to hurt their feelings.
Research shows that some kids feel a sense of depression or experience low self-esteem when they see their peers living more desirable lives than their own. Parents should educate their kids to make them understand that not all that’s seen on social media is true and that people have issues of their own that they won’t necessarily post.
Dos and Don’ts While Using the Internet
|Create safe passwords to internet sites that could be risky to your kids.||Encourage them never to agree to meet with strangers found online without adult consent.|
|Educate your child never to share personal information such as where they live or go to school.||Install browsers that are child-friendly and restrict the use of inappropriate content|
|Be well aware of sites that may be risky or dangerous for minors to be on, such as gambling sites.||Create awareness on the dangers of sharing explicit sexual content with anyone, including close friends or family that may ask of it.|
“Always keep an eye on the websites that your children open to ensure that they are safe.”
Extra Tips to Tell Your Kids When Using Social Media Apps
Social media and kids, in general, can get carried away but being mean or harsh to other children online is considered cyberbullying. Teach your child to be kind to others at all times, even online, and educate them on some of the severe consequences of cyberbullying, such as suicide and depression.
Think Twice Before Hitting “Enter”
Make sure that your teenagers are aware of some of the dangers that come with publicly sharing their locations online. This could lead to kidnappings, house robberies, or stalking from strangers.
Follow the What Would Grandma Say (WWGS) Rule
This means making your kids conscious of what they post. If they wouldn’t allow their teachers or parents or grandparents to see it, it’s likely to be deemed inappropriate.
Use Privacy Settings
Educate your kids on the importance of using privacy settings to avoid theft and teach them not to share these details with anyone.
Don’t “Friend” Strangers
Just like how you taught them not to speak to strangers, the same applies to strangers found online. Should you feel like someone may threaten your child and their safety, contact Gelman & Associates now, so you know the legal options you have with matters such as these.
FAQ About Social Media Safety
Yes, it’s possible to find hidden apps on kids’ phones. Apps can be hidden via Applocker. When you check your child’s phone, you will be able to see, but will likely require a PIN code to gain access.
Yes, allowing location tracking services from apps can prove useful in the event you want to know the whereabouts of your child.
The best social media apps that your kids can use are those that are kid-friendly and prohibit any inappropriate content.