Our children are understanding and accessing social media faster than we, as parents, are prepared and this often brings up questions for parents who may be less familiar with navigating the online world. Yes, some social media is associated with some negative experiences, such as cyberbullying and threats to safety. But it can also be a positive experience by offering opportunities to stay in touch with family and friends over the summer months and vacations, and it is effectively used as an educational tool. As parents, we fear cyberbullying, or online child predators might influence us to restrict all use of social media to protect our children. However, if we prepare them from the beginning using social media and keep an open line of communication, negative experiences could be minimized. If you are considering allowing your child to engage in social media or if they are already interacting online, here are some tips and tricks to provide a safe, positive experience.
Teach your child what is appropriate and inappropriate to share online.
Once a child is engaging online, they are creating their unique digital footprint. This footprint will consist of what they post and share in online environments, what sites they visit, and how they respond to others.
Monitor popular applications.
Become informed of apps you can use to monitor social media use by your child and use blocking software to limit access to adult content.
Teach your child about internet safety and provide a set of rules for them to follow.
When rules are broken, decide upon appropriate consequences for breaking the rules.
Role-playing can be the best teaching tool.
For example, not sharing your phone number or address with people you meet online. Additionally, it is important to discuss tricks that sexual predators may use in order to convince them to meet in person. Helping to educate your child to be internet savvy is important. It is similar to teaching them not to get in a car with someone they do not know or not to follow someone to help find their puppy.
At Villa Maria, we are fans of keeping computers in public areas of the home in plain sight.
Explain the importance of keeping passwords private.
This is similar to the rule of not sharing a locker combination. Make sure your child’s social media pages have privacy settings set up to protect them.
Make sure they know to only friend people they know personally.
Let your child teach you what they know about technology and spend time learning from them.
They might know more than you expect and can teach you something. As your son or daughter helps you navigate their social media world, ask questions and learn how they think and feel about their online experience.