Do you feel like you need help to monitor your child’s social media use? If this is you, then these 6 tips to monitor your child’s social media use will be a huge help!
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 on Instagram @bashsarmiento.
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Let’s face it, the internet is not going away anytime soon. It’s only going to get more prevalent for your child, so it’s normal that your parental instincts kick in when your child tells you that they want to go on social media.
The urge to say no may be strong, but it’s difficult to ignore the positive sides of these platforms, such as staying connected with their peers, keeping in touch with family members, and discovering their own passions. And rather than having your child go behind your back to create an account on their own, it’s best to maintain open communication so you can help them navigate the ins and outs of social media. This way, you’ll also be able to monitor their usage, especially when they’re just starting out. So, let’s talk about six tips that will help you monitor your child’s social media use.
Have an open conversation about social media
When your child approaches you and expresses their intent to use social media, welcome this effort. It’s a good start to an open conversation about social media. Assuming they are in their pre-teens and are able to understand more difficult topics, you can talk about your own thoughts regarding social media—both the pros and cons. Discussing both sides of social media well before creating their own profiles is essential.
You can also ask them why they wish to create a social media account. Doing so can help you gauge if they understand what social media is and how they intend to use it, which will help you decide if they’re ready to set up their own profile.
Teach them how to stay vigilant online
These days, it’s normal for children to have their own mobile phones and laptops, so you cannot always monitor their online activities 24/7. While that may deter parents from allowing their kids to even go online for things outside of schoolwork, it’s better to equip kids with the proper knowledge about internet safety and data privacy. It’s true that the youth these days are tech-savvy, but it’s important to remind them to stay vigilant as that’s most likely not their top priority when they go on social media.
Tips to give kids so they can keep your and their data safe online:
- Use strong passwords and keep them to hidden from everyone, except themselves.
- Don’t give out personal information like an address, banking information, social security numbers, phone numbers, etc.
- Always set up two-factor authentication to protect against hackers.
- Don’t click on questionable links, especially in emails.
- Secure your devices with passcodes or screen locks.
Build mutual trust and maintain and encourage open communication
You cannot monitor your child’s activities all the time, so it’s critical to establish trust with them. When you have trust with your child, they will feel comfortable approaching you if they encounter any inappropriate content on social media.
Encourage them to share their concerns if they come across something on the internet that they find confusing or alarming. Ensure them that they will not be in trouble if they are honest and open with you. Building parent-child trust is essential in allowing your child to learn the ropes on their own.
You’ll know your actions are working if your child is able to practice their own discernment on social media. If they voice their concerns to you freely without fear of being judged or losing their account (or your affection), then you will know you have been successful in raising a social media conscious child.
Set internet ground rules
Before setting up a social media account, your child needs to agree with the ground rules you set. Setting ground rules gives your child a guide on how to navigate online activities safely. And it will help ease your mind about letting them go on social media. Here are some recommended ground rules that you can discuss with your child:
- Follow the age restrictions on social media.
- They agree on which platforms they can use.
- If your child wants more than one account, they need to talk to you about why they need another social media platform.
- Remind them not to share personal details about themselves or your family online.
- Don’t converse or interact with people you don’t personally know.
- Manage your child’s screen time to ensure that they won’t spend hours scrolling online and leave their other responsibilities behind.
- Ask them to add you as their friend so you can stay updated on what they post without being too invasive.
Use a parental control app to monitor your child’s activity
Security apps for mobile devices and laptops may require a parent’s authorization before a child can install an application. While using a monitoring app may seem invasive, it can help you understand your child’s online activity. It will also address any concerns you might have at the start of their social media use.
A good rule of thumb is to treat monitoring apps and other safety features like training wheels on a bike. Once your child starts getting the hang of social media, and are able to communicate with you freely and openly, you can always disable these types of apps.
Importance of Monitoring Social Media Especially For Children With Learning Disability
Parents of children with learning disabilities need to be extra cautious of their children’s social media activities. If your child has an identified learning disability, the above tips can help you ensure their online safety.
Social media can be a good place to get support from peers and experts, but it does have some negative side effects. Cyberbullying and predatory behavior are prime examples so it is also important to invest more time in explaining the ins and outs of social media to your children. By taking this extra time, you will ensure that their online experience is fun, educational, and most importantly, safe.
Your child may be part of a generation that grew up in a very digital age, so it’s only normal for them to socialize on a social media platform. And it is also normal to want to protect them from potential harm on those platforms. Hopefully, the tips above will help you with monitoring your child’s social media activities while also ensuring their online safety.