As a parent of 4 growing kids, I worry about Social Media Safety. My oldest is 14 and is now online. That’s a scary thought for me. He’s been wanting to have his own Facebook page and we held off for a long time. We really wanted to wait as long as we could to let him explore all that there is with social media.
I don’t want to say that we “shelter” our kids but yet I truly believe that a little sheltering isn’t such a bad thing. Kids grow up so quick and if we can keep them safe, shouldn’t we? As fast as social media is growing, it’s just so important to have Social Media Safety for kids.
As part of our homeschool group, one of our speakers last year was a detective for the local law enforcement. He talked about Internet Safety in general and it was eye opening. A lot of what he focused on was the social media aspect of it. Even when we try to limit our children’s time on the internet or social media, if they want to be on, they will find a way.
So how do we protect our kids?
Social Media Safety for Kids
Here are some tips for social media safety:
1. Talk to your kids. Let them know what is and isn’t acceptable “online” behavior. Kids are now growing up with the internet and think nothing of sharing personal information, pictures, etc. Set clear rules that nothing personal should be shared online…especially not your home address or even when and where they’re going. Predators could see these things and search them out. Also, let them know that once it’s on the internet, it’s always on the internet. That embarrassing picture that they posted, is not going to go away.
2. Get to know the ins and outs of all social media. Not all parents are on social media themselves or even familiar with it. If your child is going to be on social media, then you need to be as well. You need to know how it works and be able to navigate it. Learn how and what to set the privacy settings to. And it’s OK to be on your child’s “friends list” or one of their “followers.” Keeping an eye on their social media accounts is a good thing!
3. Put the computer in a general location in your home. If the computer is somewhere that you can see and monitor at all times, it’s less likely that your kids are going to do something that they wouldn’t want you to see.
4. Set passwords together. I always know my son’s passwords to his social media. And because I set up his account on one of my emails, I get the notifications if there’s any changes, etc.
5. Keep communication open. I want to make sure my son doesn’t think of any of this as “spying.” We’re in the social media world together. I let him know that he can always be honest with me about anything that goes on in the social media world. That way, hopefully, he won’t feel that he needs to hide.
All we can do is try to set some of these guidelines and protect our kids the best we can. There are sites and services too that you can set up to watch and monitor a child’s online activity. Even if you do have one of those services or intend to, I think being with your child on social media is always a best practice. Even if it’s in conjunction with other Internet safety programs.