Social media has undoubtedly become an integral part of our daily lives. From providing us with a platform to connect and share information with one another, social media has done a lot to bridge relationships with one another.
While it’s valuable and great most of the time, social media also risks becoming problematic on occasions, especially when it affects people in ways it shouldn’t.
In its recent survey, ExpressVPN found that children felt that they needed to lie about themselves on social media.
According to the virtual private network provider and cybersecurity company, children might have felt the need to do this to protect themselves online.
Early this year, NPR reported that with the advent of social media and technology, nearly one in three teen girls have seriously considered suicide in the past year.
In its report, NPR also discussed the findings and testimony written by Mitch Prinstein, the chief science officer at the American Psychological Association, about how portable technology and social media platforms have played a role in contributing to the teen mental health crisis in America.
For parents or guardians, navigating the social media scene and discussing topics like this can be difficult or otherwise unsettling.
1.) Discuss These Topics Early On
Before allowing children to create social media accounts, educating them about the basics of social media is essential.
Explain to them what social media is, how it works, and its potential risks. Teach them about the importance of online privacy and how to keep their personal information safe.
Children tend to learn better through practical examples rather than theoretical explanations. Use real-life examples to illustrate the potential risks associated with social media.
For instance, show them how people can misuse personal information, how cyberbullying can occur, or how online predators can target vulnerable individuals.
You might also want to set boundaries on the types of things they can post online or recommend that they share an image or post with you first prior to posting something online.
This way, you’ll be able to let them know if you’ve spotted something problematic.
2.) Teach Them Proper Online Behavior
It is vital to discuss proper online behavior with children. Teach them to be respectful and considerate of others’ feelings and opinions online.
Encourage them to think before they post or comment on anything online. Help them understand that online actions have real-life consequences.
By discussing such behaviors with them, you’ll be able to set some ground rules on how they should behave online and let them know that you’re always there to watch out for them and that they can come to you if they need help.
3.) Make Sure They Know The Best Privacy Settings
Teach children how to adjust their privacy settings on social media. Especially on apps like Instagram or TikTok, they could accidentally reveal too much about themselves to others.
Show them how to limit who can see their posts, message them, and view their personal information.
Ensure they understand the importance of regularly checking and updating their privacy settings.
You might also want to consider following your child on these platforms and see if they may have accidentally posted something that could be questionable to dangerous for them.
4.) Check In On Them Regularly
Monitor your child’s social media activity regularly. Keep an eye on their posts, comments, and messages.
Check their friend list to ensure that they are only connected with people they know in real life.
This can help you identify potential risks and take corrective measures before anything harmful happens.
You’ll also be able to see if something is amiss that they might not have wanted to mention before.
5.) Always Discuss Issues With Them
Encourage your child to communicate openly with you about their social media activities.
Create a safe space where they can ask questions or report incidents that make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Let them know you are always there to support them and help them deal with any issues they may face online.
6.) Set A Good Example For Them
However, before you can request that your child or your ward makes certain changes in the way they do things on social media, you’ll need to ensure that you’re leading by example.
Make sure that you’re not posting anything you might regret, and ensure that your behavior online is in line with what you’re asking for them to do.
In conclusion, social media is essential to our lives, and teaching children how to use it safely is crucial.
Following these tips can help your child develop safe social media habits that will serve them well.
Remember, the key is to be proactive, open, and communicative and to help your child understand the importance of staying safe online.