When the current generation of parents were children, most of their friends were people who lived in the area. People played games with those who lived around them. Interactions were previously determined and limited by the geographic vicinity. Now, technology has changed that. Social media and the internet have given rise to an era where people can talk to anyone at any time. For better or for worse, this includes children as well. It can be almost impossible for parents to monitor everything that their children do on their smart devices at a given time. As the next school year is right around the corner, there are a few social media safety tips that parents should keep in mind.
Not All Social Media Sites are Created Equal
Some parents may not fully understand what is meant by the word “social media.” These are platforms that communicate over the internet in such a way that two or more users can share what is going on in their everyday lives. Some platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, are well-known to the general public. Other platforms, such as Snapchat, may operate in circles that are mostly younger-aged individuals. While these may seem pretty straightforward, dating sites are also included under the social media umbrella. Tinder is a much different place from Facebook and it is important for parents to decide which social media platforms their children can use and which they should be prohibited from using. This is a vital part of social media safety.
Social Media Safety and Maturity
Many of the social media platforms have an age requirement for their users. It is important for parents to keep this in mind. Some middle-schoolers may be ready to use certain social media platforms while other children of the same age may not be ready. It is important for parents to decide for themselves when they feel their children are ready to use social media. Furthermore, parents should remember that even though the sites are “restricted” to users who are below a certain age, this is hardly a barrier. For most sites, the users only need to enter in a birthday to prove their age. This birthday doesn’t have to be their actual birthday.
Explain the Lack of Privacy in the Internet World
When children post something on Facebook or Instagram, the delete button is conveniently located right next to the post that they just put up on their page. They may feel that there is a second chance if they regret saying something online or have a change of heart. It is up to the parents to explain to their children that nothing they say or do on the internet can be taken back and nothing is truly private. Just because something is password-protected doesn’t mean that it can only be seen by a select few. This means that children should never post something on their social media page that they wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with the entire world. Once something is out on the internet, it is out there for good. Social media safety is in the hands of the user.
Limit the Time with Electronics
Part of social media safety is limiting the opportunities for children to make mistakes. This means that parents should control the amount of time that their kids spend on the phones, computers, or other smart devices. If children are spending all of their time on social media, they are increasing the number of opportunities for mistakes to happen. Furthermore, they may start neglecting their in-person relationships, their schoolwork, and their athletics. This is an important opportunity for parents to make sure that their kids understand what their true priorities in life should be. When grades start to suffer, it is often because of the amount of time that children are spending on front of the screens. This can also have a negative impact on their own personal growth and development. Try to control a number of time children spend in front of the screens.
Strangers are Out There
Many parents raise their children to avoid talking to strangers from birth. Parents should think about how they would react if their children started talking to someone that they didn’t know on the street. Most parents would be quick to intervene and put a stop to it. The online world is no different. It might even be more dangerous as people can hide behind a fake screen name. Therefore, parents must teach their children to stay away from people that they don’t know online, especially since some applications can show users where they are located on a map. Make sure that children only accept friend requests from people that they know.
Monitor the Devices
While this may sound like overkill, it is important for parents to at least know who their kids are talking to online. This could be something as simple as monitoring the phone numbers that the information is coming from and making sure that the number is recognized. Furthermore, parents who are friends with their children on the various social media platforms should be able to see what their children are posting. These are very simple ways that parents can be aware of what is happening in the online world. Knowing is half of the battle in the world of social media safety.
Help is Available
It isn’t easy for parents to monitor everything that their kids do online and, sometimes, mistakes happens. Parents who have had something negative happen to their children as a result of social media should reach out to the experienced attorneys at GOM Law located in McAllen, TX. Social media safety is a priority and help is available for parents who need it.