As a parent, there is an endless list of things to worry about when it comes to protecting your kids. Monitoring their media intake, from television, to video games to the internet, can be a full time job. Social media introduces an entire new set of platforms – and potential problems. So as a parent, what do you need to know? We know that it can be overwhelming, but before you say “no” to everything social, or worse, turn a blind eye on what your child is doing, watch the Socialfly Co-Founders, Stephanie Abrams and Courtney Spritzer, discuss tips on how to handle the situation.
1. Educate yourself. The first thing you should do as a parent is get familiar with the platforms. It’s a lot to keep up with, but knowing what platforms are popular and how they work will help you establish guidelines when it comes to your kids. Go ahead and set up profiles so that you can see what types of information is being shared and how it’s being shared. When your child comes to you and wants to set up an Instagram account, you want to be one step ahead in knowing the difference between a public and private profile.
2. Set up profiles together with your kids so that you have all of the logins and passwords. This will establish an open dialogue from the outset. If you are a part of the process from the beginning, your child will be less likely to engage in activity that they wouldn’t want you to see. There should be no secrets when it comes to social media.
3. Keep privacy settings on. Each platform has different levels of privacy settings and you’ll want to make sure that when possible, your kids have everything set to “private.” When setting up a profile, make sure your child is connecting only with people they know and educate them on the dangers of communication outside of their immediate network.
4. Keep communication open. Once your child is on social media, don’t let the conversation end there. Have ongoing discussions about the dangers as well as the benefits of social media. Communicate the types of images and comments that should never be shared and the possible implications. As new platforms and trends emerge, stay apart of the dialogue. Don’t be afraid to adapt and change your personal rules for social media use. Make your child aware of cyber bullying and online predators. Most importantly, express just how permanent social media can be and how their activity can follow them into their careers.
5. Decide on an appropriate age. Most platforms don’t allow anyone under the age of 13 to establish a profile, but obviously there are ways to get around this, so know the rules before you discuss a platform with your child. Instagram has very lax guidelines for setting up a profile so you need to establish your own house rules. Is there a right age for someone to be on social media? It really depends on the individual. You as a parent need to evaluate your child’s maturity level and ability to understand the consequences of social media. Guidelines should also be established for appropriate times to be on social media.
6. Set an example. Children model adult’s behaviors. If you are friends with your kids on social media, they are going to be seeing what you are doing. Watch your language and images in the same way that you’ll be watching your kids. If you are posting 8 times a day, your children will also think that they should. Model the type of social media etiquette that you want your kids to see.