Is your kid’s social media profile public or private? Do you know how many profiles they have? Here are 4 tips to keep your kids safe on social media!
by Bash Sarmiento | Bash Sarmiento is a writer and an educator from Manila. He writes laconic pieces in the education, lifestyle and health realms. His academic background and extensive experience in teaching, textbook evaluation, business management and traveling are translated in his works. Follow him @bashsarmiento.
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Children today have grown up with the internet. It’s also part of their education to watch their favorite kid shows with easy-to-understand moral lessons and even help them learn their ABCs! Their exposure to the world wide web will only continue to expand as they grow up. Soon enough, they’ll be asking you about social media and if they can get on it.
As a parent who’s seen both the good and bad sides of the internet and social media, it’s natural to feel hesitant about your kid going on social media. However, it’s almost an inevitable part of their exposure to the internet. And instead of risking them creating one without your knowledge, it’s best to have a discussion with them about online safety.
That’s why I’ve put together these great tips on how to keep your kids safe on social media!
#1 Explain social media to your kids and build mutual trust
Before even discussing whether or not they can sign up for a social media account, it’s important to inform them about the internet. Yes, it’s a way for them to talk to their peers even when they’re apart, but it’s also a place where people with bad intentions lurk. It can also be a platform for bullying and depression. After this talk, you’ll be able to discern if your kid is old and mature enough to understand the limitations of who they can interact with and how. This can make you more confident in their ability to navigate social media.
It’s essential to build that trust between you and your kid, so they feel safe enough to approach you should they have any questions or concerns about social media. If they’re discovering some things on the internet that confuse or are problematic for them, they should be able to rely on you for advice without feeling like they’re risking being judged or losing your affection.
#2 Know what the age restrictions on social media platforms are
It’s important to know about the age restrictions to see if your kid has reached the prescribed age to have their own social media account. Most platforms have a 13+ rule, so you have to be a teenager to have an account. If your child is below the prescribed age, then you need to explain to them that it’s not yet time, based on the rules. Allowing them to lie about their age is questionable at best and reckless at worst.
But just because the age restriction is 13, does not mean that your kid can sign up for an account the second they become a teen. You and your kid should still be able to agree on ground rules like keeping their account private and adding you as their “friend.” For younger kids, you can consider trying Messenger Kids, which offers more parental control—from managing their contact list and monitoring messages. This can be a test run to see if your kids are ready for other platforms when they come of age.
#3 Remind them about internet safety and data privacy
The internet is a good place to discover passions, learn, and connect. But it can also be an unsafe place for children and adults alike. Modern technology has paved the way for both the good and the bad. Trolls, scammers, and, as difficult as it is to acknowledge, predators. The “don’t talk to strangers” rule you tell your kids when going out is applicable online as well, especially when they’re underage. It’s important to bring awareness to the dark side of the internet—not to scare your kids, but to remind them to stay vigilant. Let them know that it’s okay to let you know if someone online has made them feel unsafe or uncomfortable. You can work together to block that user and report them to make sure that they won’t be doing the same thing to others as well.
Make sure to remind your kid not to give out or post personal information about themselves and your family. This includes your full names, addresses, contact details, and even car plate numbers. There are scammers online who can use this data for fraud. Posting personal information can give those with bad intentions an upper hand, so ensure that your kids are conscious about what they post. For additional safety, it’s best to keep your kid’s account private instead of going public, so they really know who they’re adding to their network.
#4 Manage their screen time
When your kids do go on social media, it’s important to set time restrictions. They still have other responsibilities as kids, such as chores, homework, and hanging out with their family or friends. Going on social media does not mean they can forego these responsibilities.
Additionally, too much screen time can cause physical issues. You should limit their time online and help them avoid having eye strain and headaches. Navigating social media with your child includes not only the platforms they use, but also how their use affects other aspects of their life, including their health.
Remember when you told your child to be cautious when they ventured out into the world on their own–like walking on the safe side of town, not talking to strangers, keeping their belongings close to them? Getting them ready for social media is the same thing. Keeping security measures in place, such as keeping their account private and providing them with the information they need to stay safe, is surely important. But keeping that trust between you and your kid is essential as well—trust that they know the safe places to visit, what not to post, and how to approach you if they need any guidance.
Hopefully, with the tips above, you can build trust together and a safe social media experience for your child! Have any tips you’d like to share? Start a discussion in the Forum!