Presented by BetterHelp.
Parenting is never easy, but the internet and social media have made it far more complicated than ever before. With just a few taps on their phone, your children can interact with anyone in the world, meaning they are fairly exposed. It’s enough to make any parent nervous as you rarely have control over your children’s internet usage.
However, with some good boundaries and chats about social media, you can encourage your children to use it in a manner that is safe but still fun. Here are some tips on managing your children’s social media usage.
Know About The Platforms Your Kids Are Using
Social media is constantly evolving. It seems like there is a brand new platform created every day. But inevitably, there are always a few platforms that tend to be more popular than most. Even though trends can change quickly, it’s important to know what the most important social media platforms are and how they operate.
Each platform is unique and is utilized in different ways. For example, some are fully anonymous, while others show the world the users’ real names. Some forms only use text or messaging to communicate with others, while others primarily use photos and videos. Research the latest platforms to understand how they operate as well as how your children can use them safely. You may even want to create an account of your own just so you are familiar with the platforms yourself.
Talk To Your Kids About Using Social Media Safely
Though your kids have probably lived with the internet their entire lives, it is still important to talk to them about being safe on social media. Though online safety may seem like common sense, many people still become targets of scams and harassment every day.
Make sure your children understand the importance of not disclosing personal information to strangers online. You should discourage them from putting out their full name on the platform as much as possible, as well as giving out information such as their address, school location, and schedule.
Furthermore, make sure they understand the permanence of the internet. Even if a post with personal information is deleted, many people could have reposted, downloaded, or copied and pasted the information long before it was deleted.
Harassment is practically becoming a hobby for internet trolls, and no one is immune to it. Therefore, make sure your children understand how to handle cyberbullying and harassment. Have them show you any messages that make you uncomfortable and make sure they know that any threatening messages from classmates should be reported to their teacher or school.
Using Social Media Positively
Furthermore, make sure your kids know to use social media positively. Encourage them to compliment other people’s posts or to spread positivity with theirs. Teach them the importance of spreading love instead of hate. Discourage them from using social media to bully others or to be negative or hurtful in any way.
Walk Your Talk
It’s not enough to just talk to your children about using social media responsibly. You need to walk your talk. That means limiting what personal information you put out and treating people with respect online.
It’s also a good idea to respect your children’s privacy. Just because you take a great picture of your family doesn’t mean that your children necessarily want that photo uploaded for the world to see. Therefore, you should ask everyone’s permission before uploading pictures of them online.
Set Limits And Boundaries
The best way to protect your children is to set boundaries. However, you don’t want to be too strict as it is important for adolescents and teens to experience some independence.
When setting boundaries on social media, make sure they are fair for everyone involved. For example, you could ban social media and phone usage during dinner time or when your children need to do their homework. You may also want set usage limits on the weekend so that your family spends quality time together without technology getting in the way.
Furthermore, you may want to ban certain platforms if you don’t think they are appropriate for your children. However, if you restrict specific sites, explain why to your children (ex., the app has age restraints or isn’t kid-friendly).
Let Them Know You Are Always There For Support
And lastly, make sure your children know you are always there to support them. If they are harassed online, make sure they know they can count on you for backup, help, and support. If they use social media in a way that violates the boundaries you set, ensure they know you will love them even if you need to discipline them for their actions.
Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. Adolescents and teens will always follow the latest trends, so you won’t be able to keep them off the hottest platforms. But with frequent conversations and solid limits and boundaries, you can teach your children safe ways to use social media so it can remain a fun activity. For more general parenting tips, head over to BetterHelp for more articles and resources.