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The world nowadays is all about finding a voice on social media platforms. Technology has dominated our lives and parents constantly struggle to keep up with the younger generation and neverending new platforms. Social media has given us all a place to display our work and a platform to connect with others, share memories and express ourselves. However, the Internet is filled with potential threats if you are not fully aware of the reality of social media.
Every other day, a parent complains about online content that children come across or messages they’ve received from strangers. Instead of panicking and banning social media usage altogether, there are ways to reach out to the younger generation to keep them safe.
Here are 10 tips that will help us all keep our children safe on social media:
1-Start a conversation with your child early
Never underestimate the importance of conversation when it comes to the nature of the Internet. Children as young as six years old can understand the topic as they use tablets and smartphones at a young age. When they hit the big 13, make sure you follow them on social media.
2- Parental control and age restrictions
Please don’t create a fake account for your 7-year-old child on social media. Facebook and Instagram require everyone to be 13 years old before they can create an account and it is for a good reason. The younger your child is, the easier he/she will be affected by online content and lured by users to act inappropriately.
3- Think before you act
Your young ones need to understand the importance of sharing or posting shady content and accepting friend requests from strangers.
4- Ask your teenager to teach you
Don’t be embarrassed to ask your 14-year-old daughter to show you how to create an Instagram story. It’s only natural for the younger generation to be more acquainted with social media portals. Asking them for guidance can be an opportunity to talk about issues of safety, privacy, and security.
5- Identify and seize key moments
Take advantage of every big moment in your little one’s life. If they just received a new smartphone, set your rules in terms of screentime and Internet surfing. If they are old enough to create social media accounts, make sure you explain the possible dangers of sharing private content.
6- Practice what you preach
Your child will only do what you do, not what you ask them to do. If you want them to be online for only one hour a day, you should set an example and do the same.
7- Manage their privacy settings
Help your young ones with social media apps’ settings. Facebook has privacy settings to control who can friend them, who can see their posts, and if they share details such as their location by default. Instagram offers tools to keep teens safe online including bullying filtering, caption warnings, and sensitivity screens. Teens can also restrict unwanted interactions on their profiles and easily report accounts, comments, and posts for bullying.
8- Report anything you are concerned about
Just as your child is expected to report bullying and violence at school, explain that the same goes on social media. All posts on Instagram and Facebook have community standards policies that allow you to report abuse, bullying, harassment, and other issues.
9- Share the experience
Show your child that you can be a fun part of his/her social media experience so you don’t drive him away. Create fun photos with filters together, post albums of each other or tag your little one on a relatable post.
10- Trust your instincts
Social media parenting is just as challenging as real-life parenting. You have to set rules, expectations, and consequences.