One teacher and mommy of 2 offers ways parents can teach their children how to use social media safely.
While social media can provide many benefits to kids, parents are concerned when children are online. Cyber-bullying, over-sharing of personal information, and communicating with strangers are only a few risks kids face while participating in online communities. While these fears are all valid, there is much that parents can do to educate children on how to use social media safely.
Social Media Safety Parenting Basics
Teach your child the 5 things we should never share online:
- Social Security number
- Home address
- Phone number
- State of birth (which can be used to obtain social security numbers and other identity information).
Social Media Safety Parenting Checklist:
Be involved! Know what your children are doing online and surf the web with them. If they come across inappropriate content, teach them how to react constructively.
- Keep your home computer in a central and open location so you can monitor your children when they are online.
- Review privacy settings and set them to meet the needs of your family.
- Be aware and on the look-out for anything unusual or out of the ordinary. If something doesn’t look or feel right, avoid it.
- Keep your computer safe. Make sure your computer is protected with an internet safety suite (anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall). Keep your operating system, web browsers, and software clean and up-to-date. Back up files regularly.
- What goes online stays online. Do not say anything or post any pictures that might later cause you or someone else embarrassment.
- Don’t give in! Don’t let peer pressure convince you to do something you are not comfortable with. If you believe your child is experiencing cyberbullying, visit Stopbullying.gov for more information about what to do and how to help your child.
- Never share your location. According to USA Today, doing this makes you and your family more vulnerable for break-ins.
- Use strong passwords.
- Be smart and log out. Always log out of social media when you are done especially if you are using a public computer.
- And the golden rule of posting? According to SafeOnline.org, “Post only about others as you have them post about you.”
How to Talk to Kids About Social Media Safety
So now you have set the rules for social media usage, you’re ready to have the conversation about getting on social media. How do you talk to your kids about it? There are several “dos and don’ts” for talking about social media with your children.
- Do foster a culture of conversation in your family from the beginning. Be sure the conversations are age-appropriate.
- Don’t make social media forbidden.
- Do be sure your kids know you are monitoring their time on social media.
- Do talk about your own social media experiences.
- Do remind your kids that the internet is NOT private.
- Do honor your child’s interest in social media.
- Do allow your child to be the “expert” and teach you how to use social media and to share how it is used among their peers.
- Do make sure your child knows you are available when they need you.
Benefits to Kids Using Social Media
So, you may wonder, if there are so many risks involved when using social media, what are some of the benefits and why should I allow my child to even use it? There are quite a few benefits to using social media.
- Friendships and other relationships are strengthened.
- Social networking offers social support. Kids can find other kids who share the same interests on social networking. Social networking can also provide support and guidance for those in need.
- Children learn to be more tech-savvy. Staying on top of trends in technology will only benefit them in the future.
- Social networking enhances education. Schools use it for lessons, assigning work and for communicating with students outside of the classroom.
- Social media provides allows children easy access to others’ points of view. By reading others about ideas and experiences, students broaden their own thinking and develop their own voice.
So, take the time to set the groundwork for safe use, keep the conversations going and enjoy all the benefits social media has to offer both your children and yourself!
About the Blogger
Stephanie is an Educents Blogger, mother of two boys, a seasoned teacher, and the creator of Boy Mama Teacher Mama. Stephanie shares activities that can be used in the home or in the classroom with a special emphasis on issues related to raising boys. When not teaching, creating, crafting or blogging, she enjoys spending time with her boys, quilting and baking. You can follow Boy Mama Teacher Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, and BlogLovin.