In this day and age, practically everyone has joined at least one social networking community. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the most popular right now. While these social networking sites are a fun, innovative way to connect with friends and family (and meet new people), it can also be a dangerous place for children if they aren’t careful. Kids can meet “friends” online that may appear to be a typical teenager on their profile, but in reality, an adult looking to prey upon innocent children. This is why it is important for a parent to monitor their child’s online activity to help protect them from predators and online bullying. Here are 5 tips that parents can use to help protect their child…
1. Keep their personal information private. On many social media sites, the user has the option to display their hometown, school, phone number, and even where they are currently located. Exposing all this information could be dangerous for a child. Make sure your child isn’t posting detailed information like this online.
2. Educate them on the danger of meeting online “friends” in person. Although someone may be called a “friend” or “follower”, in person, it may be a different story. Children need to know that meeting with strangers (especially in a private place) is dangerous, and has resulted in tragedy for some.
3. Monitor their activity. You too can join these social media sites and be one of your child’s followers online. This can give you the opportunity to see what they are posting, and what others are saying to them. This is not something that you have to sneak around to do. Once you have talked to your child about the potential dangers of social media, you can inform them that being “friends” with you online is a way for you to protect them. You can also set their computer in an open area of the home so you can check on them every so often.
4. Encourage your child to talk to you about any comments or messages that make them uncomfortable. Come up with an “action plan” with them. This is a discussion about what you and the child should so if anything goes a bit too far. Also, teach them to take advantage of security settings, which most sites provide. This can keep some harassers from contacting your child.
5. Remind them of how important it is for them to maintain a decent reputation. What they post online can be seen by millions, and some people will pass judgement on what they see. Make sure the children know that they can delete postings from their page, but even then, there are still people that saw the post while it was still up. The best thing to do is to keep all posts clean.
The best thing to do is to teach your kids how to be cautious. You should talk to them about what is and isn’t acceptable, and what will happen if there is anyone harassing them. Your child would want to be protected and safe, and still have fun at the same time. If you gain your child’s trust and let them know that you want them to be involved in their own protection (this should be a partnership between the two of you), they would be much more accepting of your monitoring. For more tips, visit www.GetNetWise.org.