What Parents Need to Know about Social Media
Chatting online and sharing images are part of life for most kids today. It’s very easy for children to connect with people they don’t know, and this can be dangerous.
When children have the power to document their lives, post real time videos and share their location, parents need the knowledge and tools to keep them safe.
Stay Up to Date
Keeping up to date with social media can be daunting for parents but you need to be aware of the channels your child is using. Some of the most popular platforms for kids today include Instagram, Snapchat, Tiktok, Kik, Whatsapp, Tumblr and Youtube.
All these channels are based on connection, and interaction between participants. There are also many gaming sites which allow young people to chat with other users. Predators often use these sites to share inappropriate content or win children’s trust so they can gain access to their social media accounts.
You would never allow a stranger into your home, but in a sense, that is what happens when your child connects with a stranger online so it’s essential to take online safety seriously.
Follow Your Child’s Accounts
Younger children need constant supervision in cyberspace just as they do in the real world. Many parents create separate accounts for themselves when children begin using social media so they can see what their child posts and who they interact with.
Parental control apps such as mSpy allow you to monitor what channels your child is using on their phone or iPad. You can also access their contacts, read texts and see who they are calling as well as track their location through GPS. Please be aware that any photos shared while GPS is on may contain geotags which reveal the location.
While apps to monitor social media use can give parents peace of mind, trust is important too. It’s a good idea to tell your child if you’ve installed an app to prevent them feeling betrayed if they find out by accident. Knowing they are being monitored can help kids become more reflective about what they do online. To minimise the negative aspects of social media, ask kids to use devices in common areas of the house and remove them at night.
Education is the Key
To ensure children’s safety online, parents need to learn about privacy settings and other features, such as geo tracking, which can be disabled or modified on social media accounts to make them safer.
Encourage your child to use a nickname online and make sure they know never to divulge their full name, address or school. Teach them how to create different groups so they only share personal content with those in their inner circle. They also need to know how to block and report trolls and bullies.
Live streaming has become popular among teenagers, but it’s easy to inadvertently reveal personal information this way. If your teenager wants to livestream to their followers, help them plan for it and teach them to be mindful of what they show in the background.
It’s important to talk frequently with your child about the risks of social media and how to mitigate them. Kids have little awareness of the dangers lurking online, which is why parents need to be educated and vigilant on their behalf.