Helping children navigate the world of social media can be challenging for parents, especially when our kids are more tech savvy than we are. More than 80 percent of teens online use some form of social media. It can also be challenging for parents to keep up with the social platforms that kids are using, as it is ever-changing.
Even though kids might be more tech savvy than their parents, young people might not always be aware of the safety issues that come with social media. To keep kids safe, it is important for parents to establish guidelines and monitor their children’s use.
Here are some tips about keeping kids safe:
▪ Educate yourself about social media, what social networks kids are using and how these sites and apps work. Consider setting up your own account on these networks so that you know exactly how they work and let your child know you will be monitoring them through these accounts.
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▪ Keep your computer in a common area in your home, not in a child’s bedroom. This way you can be present and aware of what your child is doing on the computer and how much screen time he or she is getting.
▪ Make sure your child understands that the internet is forever and that anything they post can have consequences, either immediate or down the road. Deleting something does not mean that it is gone forever.
▪ Let your child know your expectations around cyberbullying. Bullying is not acceptable, whether online or in person. Posts should be appropriate. There are also legal consequences that can occur.
▪ Make sure your child is protecting his or her privacy. Privacy can be protected by privacy settings but kids also need to be aware that what they post can also be used to take advantage of them. These kinds of posts include photos that show their home address, travel dates or phone numbers.
▪ Consider establishing age limits. Most social networks require users to be 13 or older to have accounts. Also consider setting limits for screen time. Kids need a break from the constant barrage of information. They also need time to engage in face-to-face interactions.
You can learn more about responsible monitoring of social media, cellphones and other devices at the Straight Talk presentation at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at Mount Nittany Middle School. School Resource Officer Terry Stec and State College police Detective John Aston will provide information about different devices, apps and social media sites that are popular with youth today. Keeping up to date and knowing what is out there is one way parents can help kids be safe when communicating with others online.
Denise Herr McCann is the YSB Community Based Division Director and CTC Mobilizer.
If you go
What: Straight Talk: Understanding Your Child’s Social Media World
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 19
Where: Mount Nittany Middle School, 656 Brandywine Drive, State College