It’s back to school time! For many families, sending the kids back to school also means that their kids are spending more time in front of the computer or tablet to do his or her schoolwork…and possibly be online looking at non-school related material.
Whether you’re parenting a teen, pre-teen or elementary age child, the topic of social media use has probably come up. If your pre-teen or teen has a smart phone, you are probably aware of the many apps available for them to use to set up social media accounts to communicate with friends they know in real life, as well as “friends” they meet on the social media platform. To help your child be aware of the both the benefits and dangers of social media use, your friends at Solidarity have compiled some tips to help parents navigate this world and keep your kids safe.
1) Educate Yourself About Social Media
The first step in educating your kids about social media is to become familiar with the platforms they may be using. If you’re not familiar, your kids may be asking to set up accounts on the following social media platforms:
Once you’ve gotten the lay of the land, consider setting up your own accounts on the platforms your kids want to join. Make a condition of joining any social media platform that they must set their privacy settings at the highest level, and they must allow you to follow them and always have access to their accounts.
2) Talk to Your Kids About the Risks and Rewards of Social Media
Have an honest conversation with your kids about the good, bad and ugly with regards to social media. It’s okay to use real life examples of how pictures, comments and posts can be misconstrued, and how choosing to use social media as a vehicle to cyberbully, for example, can have long-term damaging effects on them.
Ultimately, make sure your child understands that he or she can come to you if they feel threatened or are uncomfortable with any situation that may develop on a social media platform. You will be their best resource for thinking through any potentially harmful situation.
3) Set an Age Limit
If your child thinks that joining the social media platform will never happen, he or she is more likely to set up a secret account without your permission. Working in your favor are the age limits set by the social media platforms. Most set a minimum age requirement of 13 years of age to set up a social media account, as per the guidelines set by Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prohibits companies from getting personal information from children under the age of 13.
4) Set Guidelines and Limits
Once you allow your child to set up a social media account, be sure to set reasonable guidelines for its use. Don’t be too strict, as it will make social media a forbidden fruit and more likely to be misused, but rather set reasonable time limits for its use.
Suggest a time when you and your child can visit his or her social media platforms together and discuss what friends and followers are posting, as well as the content he or she would like to share. One common rule of thumb is to ask your child if he or she would share the content to be shared via social media with his or her grandparents. If Grandma and Grampa would be offended, it’s probably not content that should be shared with others.
5) Keep Your Computer in a Common Area
Place the computer that your child uses in a common area of your home. This allows you to keep an eye on the social media platforms being visited by your child, as well as to monitor time spent on the computer. It also makes it harder for your child to be looking at content that you may deem inappropriate.
6) Check Your Child’s Device and Privacy Settings Regularly
One of the conditions to join a social media platform should be that “Private” or “Friends Only” accounts are only permitted. Public accounts invite internet predators and others to view your child’s account and potentially interact with him or her.
Be sure to check your child’s privacy settings periodically on both their device (especially if they are on a phone or tablet) and social media platforms to make sure that the proper settings are in place. If your child knowingly violates this condition, follow through by deleting the social media account and limiting technology privileges.
As a member of the Solidarity family, your safety is of utmost importance. Visit our site for tips on how to safeguard your financial information online
Solidarity also offers an Internet Safety course online for kids and once they complete the course, they may be eligible to receive a $25 deposit into their Solidarity savings account.