How to Keep Social Media Safe for Your Kids

Thursday, July 6, 2017/Categories: Home Internet

Bringing up children is a tough task. It doesn’t matter whether they’re teenagers or younger children; the level of stress they can cause is more or less the same. However, as parents, we all obviously love our children and we want them to be happy.

However, their happiness can be associated with things that aren’t always on the positive end of the spectrum. Though allowing your children to learn from their mistakes is good, there are some things that they simply need to be kept away from for their own good.

Unfortunately, this has become tougher for parents ever since the Internet came into being. The Internet has no boundaries and children are exposed to all sorts of danger when they’re out roaming in the cyber world. One of the more recent threats to children’s safety is social media.

Now, don’t get us wrong; social media is a fantastic way for your children to keep in touch with friends, and even do something productive. However, there is a negative side to social media that can prove to be very, very dangerous.

The ugly side of social media

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) released a report on the “Impact of Social Media on Families and Children.” They found that, despite being generally beneficial, social media can have a negative impact on children.

For instance, the report found that young children on social media are at constant risk of being bullied and even becoming victims to child predators.

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent them from using such sites and you probably shouldn’t either. The benefits, at the end of the day, outweigh the problems. In fact, young children and teenagers love social media.

The AAP reports found that 22% of teenagers log into a social media site of their choice ten times a day. Around 75% of them have smartphones, which gives them remote access.

So, the only thing that parents can do is monitor the usage of such sites. There is no point banning such sites outright. Instead, parents need to teach their children how to use such sites with safety in mind.

If you’re a parent, here are a few tips to help you out.

Don’t give in to demands for complete privacy

Respecting your children’s boundaries is good. However, when it comes to the Internet, discretion is necessary. The best way to ensure that your kids aren’t engaging with anything inappropriate is by placing the computer in a location that isn’t too private. That way, you can keep an eye on what your children are doing.

Similarly, conduct a routine check of their browser history and ask them to hand over passwords to you. Now, this might be a little tricky considering that it can seem like you’re infringing on their right to privacy. So, a little tact might be required.

For starters, don’t keep checking their usage as and when you please. This will push them away further from you and force them to find new ways of engaging the Internet behind your back. Instead, conduct checks only when there is a justifiable cause.

Communicate basic safety

Teach them all the safety basics they need to know. Show them what can happen if they make a mistake. For instance, just show them news clips of what happens when people meet strangers online. There’s enough content out there than can scare them into taking you seriously.

Some of the common safety rules are:

  • Not posting personal information such as addresses, email IDs or phone numbers.
  • Not posting images to prevent unauthorized use or giveaway location.
  • Not making friends with strangers.
  • Not sharing passwords (even with relatives or friends).
  • Not to post anything hastily and to think twice before posting anything.

Also, don't allow them to meet with people they have only met online.

Other than that, you can change the privacy settings on their laptops and other devices. Also, tell them that they can come and talk to you about things. This will help them open up to you about any untoward incident that might have occurred online, such as bullying.

Install parental control applications

There are plenty of applications on the market that can help parents monitor what their children are up to while using the home internet. Just Google “Parental Control Apps” and you’ll find a host of websites that list out such applications. Just do some research and pick the one that you think is the best. For instance, My Mobil Watchdog is a popular parental control app.

Other than that, you can also install a filtering application. Filtering programs like NetNanny and PureSight allow you to monitor everything from chats to social media sites.

Make sure these applications are installed on their phones, as well as their laptops/computers.

Limit usage

Make sure your children aren’t glued to the Internet. Set limits on how many hours they can spend on the Internet. Get them engaged in other productive tasks such as learning music or taking part in sports. When they are engaged in something fun, they are likely to spend less time online.

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