What exactly is social media and who exactly uses it? What is your child exposed to every single day? Is it even safe to let my child use social media?
According to Merriam-Webster, social media is forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos.) But what does it all mean for you and your kids?
Read our top 10 things we think you should know:
1. Do The Best You Can To Monitor Your Child’s Social Media
Monitoring does not mean being overprotective, it means making sure your kids aren’t overusing and abusing the apps. If you aren’t keeping an eye on their posts, comments, pages, and likes, just know another parent is and won’t hesitate to let you know what your kid is saying and posting.
2. Make Sure Your Child’s Profile Is Private
This is the most important thing you can do to keep your kids safe. Insist they keep their social media profiles as private as possible. On every social media platform, there are very easy ways to keep their profiles completely locked up. Take the time to learn exactly how to keep it safe because it will be worth it. Facebook and Instagram make it easy to keep profiles private as well as Snapchat and YouTube.
3. Educate Your Kids Not To Take Photos of the Outside of Your Home
It is easy to target exactly where you and your family lives by your child simply taking a photo outside your home. Think of all the things that are caught in the background of photos, it could also be your house number and street name. Make sure your kids are aware of what’s behind them when taking a selfie or themselves and the family dog.
4. Set Rules For How Long They Are On Their Phones and Social Media
Watch how long your child is on their phone. Not only will it allow them to pull their faces away from their phones but it also encourages them to do other activities. The rule is totally up to you! Perhaps only after homework is done? Maybe only after dinner? Never before bed? Use your best parental knowledge and put it into action right now. Encouraging your child to look at other sources of entertainment is vitally important for their development.
5. Remember That Even on Private Your Kid’s Name, Age, Photo, Birthday, And Hometown Are PUBLIC
Depending on the type of social media platform, strangers might still see your child’s location. For example on Instagram, strangers can still see their bio AND their photo. On Facebook, it can get a little harder so make sure everything is private.
6. Check Their Geotagging
Geotagging is essentially tagging where you are. Instagram makes it easy for your kids to tag exactly where they are the second they post their photo. This is gold for predators because it takes the guess work out of finding your child. You can choose not to add the geotag. Snapchat also has a Snapmap that locates your child’s phone location. There are also options to “Ghost” yourself so no one can find the location in Snapchat. Being aware of Geotagging is important when it comes to online safety.
7. Educate Yourself On Social Media Platforms
Social media can be a tricky to navigate and understand but educating yourself is important. The easiest way to do this is to download the app to your smartphone and play around with it. They are relatively easy but its important to understand it. The key is to see how easy it is to find certain things and people because unfortunately, where there are children there are predators.
8. Body Image May Be Effected
Having access to social media can effect your child’s body image especially the younger girls. In the last few years, we had the explosion of the “Instagram model.” An “Instagram model” is essentially a woman who uses the platform to make money by getting paid by sponsors and in some cases, photoshop their bodies to achieve “perfection.” It is very easy for these paid ads to pop up on your child’s feed. We also know that young girls are impressionable as they are maturing so seeing these “Instagram models” can hinder their body image. Be sure to always promote positive body image.
9. Check the Age Restrictions
For mostly all social media platforms, they have age restrictions. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat are all 13 years old and Tik Tok recently changed theirs to 16. There are age restrictions for a reason and its best to adhere to them to protect your children. Recently, there was a soft core pedophile ring discovered on the very famous YouTube by YouTuber Mark Watson. Users in the comment section would flag timestamps when the children were in compromising positions.
10. There Are Benefits Alongside The Negative
There are benefits alongside the negatives listed above. Children are able to interact on the social media platforms with their friends and create a stronger bond which helps improve social skills. They can also create their own identity and keep their favorite photos and things in one place. Kids can also use their creativity skills in certain musical apps and YouTube.
But along with these positives, there are the negatives. Your best defense against online predators is your knowledge of online apps. The more you educate yourself on the dangers of social media, the better you are to handle situations before they arise.