Facebook, twitter, and instagram are ingrained in today’s lifestyle. They are used for establishing social connections and sharing of experiences. Just like adults, children who are exposed to these tools also use them to connect with their own friends. Adults who use social media should be aware of the dangers that lurk in the cyberworld. Hacking, identity theft, phishing, and cyber bullying are some of the common concerns that social media users face. Children exposed in social media can be prey to these cyber predators if they are not guided properly. As such, it is the responsibility of the parents to make a safe social media for kids. Parents may not have any control on social media per se, but they can teach their children how to use it safely. They can start by helping enforce the age restriction in social media which means no facebook or twitter for those under 13.
These social media sites have age requirements for activating accounts. But lets face it, the loose enforcement of these restrictions cannot stop 10 year olds from creating their own accounts. It would be better if parents can also consider the maturity and sense of responsibility of the child before allowing them to get into social media.
Parents and children should also agree on a set of ground rules for the use of any social media account. These rules should cover everything from parents’ access to the account, schedule and frequency of use, privacy settings, etc.
Aside from the ground rules for a safe social media, tweens and teens also need to know the importance of online reputation and be made aware of the dangerous internet tricks like pop-ups and freebies that simply collect your information. Parents need to make sure that privacy settings are always set on maximum security levels and safe search filters are turned on. This will help keep the account information safe and reduce the risk of exposing your child to inappropriate contents.
Creating a safe social media for kids would mean patience, vigilance, and work for the parents. It is not enough to set ground rules and agree on it, these rules need to be enforced. Monitoring your child’s internet and social media usage is essential in enforcing the rules and keeping the child protected.