Social media is great for professional advancement, for promoting businesses and social causes, for staying in touch, and for other reasons. Conversely, social media can be dangerous especially for teens and young adults. Keeping kids safe starts with parents. Here’s how you can keep your kids safe.
Protect Your Kids’ Identities While They’re Young
Most social media platforms have a recommended age for when children can use them (usually around 13 or 14), but long before then, parents, teachers, and other adults post photos of children online to share their lives with their friends. These posts are harmless, but not everyone who sees them, saves them, or shares them aren’t harmless. Here’s how you can protect your kids before they even start using social media:
· Have private profiles
· Don’t allow people to share your posts without permission
· Only friend people you know
· Don’t post pictures of your children with no clothes (toddler parents tend to do this) or in revealing attire (this could include swimwear)
Talk to Kids Before They Get Their First Social Media Accounts
As your kids grow, maintain an open dialogue about what social media is and how to use it. If you adhere to the recommended ages (always a good idea) for when your kids can access social media, chances are, some of their friends will have it before they do. Before they even get on social media talk to your kids about:
· Never friending strangers
· Keeping profiles private
· Never taking or sharing inappropriate photos and telling you if anyone (especially another adult) asks
· Never sharing personal information like their address, phone number, social security number, etc. Identity theft among young adults is one of the fastest rising crimes.
Establish Rules for Allowing Your Kids to Have Social Media Accounts
Experts note that depression and anxiety are closely linked to social media; this is because of bullying as well as the false narratives that compel social media users to believe that others are having more fun than they are. Imagine hearing your friends went to a party without you; now, imagine seeing pictures of the party on social media. It looks like the best party ever. Young people and even some adults struggle with the have / have-nots narrative manifested by social media.
To help combat these issues and to protect your child’s volatile psyche:
· Have passwords for your child’s social media accounts. While there’s no need to stalk your child, it is helpful to be able to access their chats and private social activities in the event they exhibit personality or performance changes.
· Be your child’s “friend” on social media
· Limit the amount of time each evening your child can spend engaging on social media
If you think your kids might find these rules draconian, then aspire to do more family activities. Also, practice what you preach and put down the phone when your kids are home. Here are some other ways to make these rules easier to implement.
· Talk to your kids about the false narratives on social media. The more they understand and are treated with respect, the better their senses of autonomy over their environment will be.
· Assure your child that you trust them but that because you love them, your goal is to help protect them, not violate their privacy.
· Designate family togetherness time as often as possible whether it’s with a family dinner or activity.
As your children grow, social media and its pitfalls will change. At the end of the day, love, communication, and a strong family bond are key ingredients in keeping your kids safe on social media.
Safe social media use starts with us. We at The Storyteller Agency love using social media for content marketing, but we also believe in keeping our future generation safe as they discover their own voices and stories. If you’re a business owner, contact us to see how we can help you safely and smartly use social media and other marketing to promote your brand.